MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) – From the high school to the middle school, parents in the Franklin Regional School District made sure their message was heard: “our children, our choice.”

Parent Erin Lorenz organized the protest of about 40 parents Wednesday. She has a son in the high school who is medically exempt and doesn’t wear a mask. But Lorenz says masks negatively impact people physically, emotionally and mentally.

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Medical experts say masks help stem the spread of COVID-19, which the state says is infecting more and more children. When announcing the mandate, Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said cases in kids rose nearly 300% in about six weeks.

Lorenz says parents and local leaders should decide if their children wear a mask, not Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration.

“Our local elected officials know what’s best for our community, what’s best for kids,” said Lorenz. “Our school board decided that masks should be optional.”

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“It isn’t right that the school should have to face that, to be put in this position,” said Melissa Dominiczak. “And then our children have to decide: can you stay home and get a subpar education or can you come to school and risk other health issues?”

Dominiczak is trying to get her son medically exempt, too. She says he wore a mask every day last year and suffered from migraines. She also believes parents should have the final say.

“If you want to send your kids in with a mask, all the power to you,” said Dominiczak. “If you want to keep your kid home, all the power to you. If you want to send your kid without a mask, all the power to you.”

The parents say they’ll continue to fight for their kids and confront the administration.

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Meanwhile, a school district spokesperson says they understand and respect all views. They’re legally obligated to uphold the mandate until it’s lifted. They’ll continue to respond in a way that provides the best outcome for everyone’s health and safety.