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Referrals, no recess for Polk Co. student breaking dress code to protest mask mandate ban

"You're supposed to be protecting the children because you're supposed to be the adults here," said Lola Smyth, 10.

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Dressed in a bright pink suit and gold metallic boots, 10-year-old Lola Smyth stood before the Polk County School Board on Tuesday with a question: “How many children are you willing to sacrifice before you would reconsider mandating masks?"

Smyth prepared a short speech for Tuesday’s board meeting in hopes of moving the board to reconsider issuing a mask mandate for students and school staff. She has also made a statement at school by breaking dress code as a form of protest.

"I decided not to wear my uniform because that's technically forcing somebody to do something, so I would do that as a protest," she said.

Smyth’s mother said since she started her protest, she has been stripped of recess and has also received referrals for her disobedience.

Smyth was not the only one pushing for masks at Tuesday’s meeting. Colleagues of former teacher Kelly Peterson also begged the board for change, after the science teacher lost her battle with COVID-19 this week.

The board also heard from plenty who felt a mandate infringes on their parental rights.

"I want to be one of the parents standing up for my children's freedoms, their rights…” said parent Adam Holland.

With nearly 2,200 students and 137 staff quarantined, masks are optional in Polk County. The board has not stated any intentions to reinstate a mask mandate for students or staff.

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