D304 meeting: Geneva parents unhappy about school district’s continued mask mandate

Cabeen defends mask policy, cites 1905 smallpox vaccine U.S. Supreme Court ruling

GENEVA – Several parents complained to the Geneva District 304 school board Tuesday about its continued mask mandate for children in school, but Board Member Larry Cabeen defended its policy.

One parent, Vincent Petrucci, questioned the continuing mask mandate and asked that the school board return to an unmasked environment.

“A couple weeks ago, I dropped off my kids at school and confusion set in,” Petrucci said. “I was confused because not 24 hours earlier we were at the Chicago Bears game with 60,000 unmasked fans. Yet, here I am, Monday morning, dropping kids off at school to be in a mask all day.”

Petrucci said the death rate from COVID-19 among children 17 and younger “is so low, it’s not worth worrying about at this point.”

Another parent, Matthew Mason, said there were three cases of COVID-19 among 5,600 children in the district.

“Is that a lot?” Mason asked. “Not to me. We’re still in masks, still social distancing, can’t give high-fives, hugs, embrace our friends and faculty at school … How much control are you willing to give up, parents? … Are you willing to have your child forcibly vaccinated? That’s coming next.”

Another parent, Ashlee White, questioned why some schools have different rules on volunteers, some allowing them and others not, depending on the building principal.

“I am not allowed in Williamsburg (Elementary School) even though I am vaccinated,” White said.

During board comments, Cabeen defended its mask policy, saying if anything the board did “resulted in the death or sickness of even one child, it’s too much, it’s not the right decision.”

“The reason you are all frustrated is you want to get rid of masks. We’re not doing it,” Cabeen said. “I am a veteran. I am loyal to this country and this Constitution.”

Cabeen said in 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a requirement for the smallpox vaccine in Jacobson v. Massachusetts.

“The U.S. Supreme Court then declared that it was perfectly legal and proper for smallpox vaccines to be administered – and I know some of you are old enough to remember that was no minor shock,” Cabeen said.

“Anyway, it’s OK. It’s been OK for more than 100 years. And for you to stand up here and say the mandates are not right – it’s not something brand new. It’s something for public health and public health is what we are about,” Cabeen said. “I’m sorry we can’t let everybody in the schools … I know you are good people and you want to help. But the fact of the matter is, it would endanger students.”

Cabeen invited people not to vote for him if he chooses to run for reelection.