Mask mandates spark chaos at school board meetings. Some parents say it's 'a matter of life and death.'

Recent school board meetings in the country saw conflict over the mask mandates as a large number of parents voted in support and against the mandates.
A New York school board meeting was cancelled, a Tennessee meeting became chaotic and name-calling escalated and a Florida student appealed to leaders for help to safeguard students' health. In August, a North Carolina protest led to the "overthrow" of a North Carolina school board.

Both sides were agitated. Some parents showed up to press local officials to require masks despite state laws. Others used discredited science to argue that masks shouldn't be required.

Anna Penola, a mother of four, stated that parents must be the boss of what is best for their children. The Michigan State Board of Education decided to support local districts' masking choices.

Mike Siegel, a father of two elementary school students in Austin, Texas, said, "This is a matter if life or death."

The coronavirus delta variant has been rampant in many parts of the country and is causing more children to become infected. The delta variant is responsible for more than 90% of COVID cases in children.

Experts don't know if it causes more symptoms in children than other strains of the virus. However, they know that it is more contagious and that vaccines are not available for children under 12.

The Backstory: COVID is becoming more popular as kids return to school.

Are children allowed to wear masks at school? These states have banned mandates, despite expert pleas

They know that wearing a mask provides instant protection against infection in all environments, even if it is only partially masking.

Florida's 12-year-old Lila Hartley, from Jacksonville, made news when she challenged her school board and demanded a masking requirement. Although she has been vaccinated, Will Hartley, her 10-year-old brother is not yet eligible for the shot.

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Lila wrote, "I am so concerned that if masks don't need to be required, my brother could head to school one day, and then be dying in hospital the next," on a large-ruled notepad. We are siblings, so we have our rivalries. But, I don't know how I would react if my brother died, especially if it was due to school, which is so important to him.

Are children allowed to wear masks at school? These states have banned mandates, despite expert pleas

Her plea came after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive directive prohibiting schools from masking mandates. He threatened to resign if school officials opposed to the order. In defiance of the governor, several counties including Broward and Hillsborough, Orange, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Hillsborough, Orange, and Palm Beach announced mask mandates.

Her parents supported Lila as she attended a rally at her district headquarters. She plans to lobby her principal for more seating outside school.

After parents petitioned to urge administrators to follow the CDC and state health recommendations for masking in schools, most schools in Mississippi's Petal School District have now implemented temporary mask mandates.

Many parents are outraged at the lack of measures to stop the spread of the virus, such as vaccines and masking requirements in schools. Many parents are motivated by misinformation and simply want to see their children in a normal school setting.

The Michigan State Board of Education met for an all-day meeting. Some commenters spread misinformation regarding vaccines and masks. Some parents threatened to take their children out of public schools. The meeting ended without the board taking any firm stance.

A Tennessee school board meeting turned into threats and insults when a mob formed against anti-mask parents. They were angry at local health care providers for mandating a mask in a district south of Nashville.

Video shows a man in a mask speaking for the mandate. A crowd of angry people surround him and harass him as he walks to his car.

Colorado saw more than 200 children, parents and community members attend an anti-mask protest outside a meeting of a school board who had instituted a mandate for masks. They were rebuffed by half-dozen teachers, and other community members who supported the mandate.

Pro- and anti-mask advocacy groups clashed in protests ahead of the Florida Brevard County School Board meeting. The board had voted to make masks optional.

Despite all the controversy, there are some facts that are certain.

Children are now more likely to contract COVID than ever before. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there were 93 824 child COVID-19 reports nationwide between July 29 and August 5. This represents 15% of all weekly reported cases. The academy reports that child cases have increased steadily since July's beginning, despite a decline in the early summer.

Children want to be able stay in school. Many people find that the mask mandates are worth the expense.

Senior Eliel Acevedo said to the Arizona Republic that it was fine with me as long as it keeps everyone safe.

Contributing: Kate Mabus, Alia Wong; USA TODAY; The Detroit Free Press. The Austin-American Statesman. The Florida Times-Union. The Hattiesburg American. The Tennessean. The Fort Collins Coloradoan. The Arizona Republic.

This article first appeared on USA TODAY. Parents protest school mask mandates as COVID cases rise