JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. (KTVI) – An 8-year-old elementary school student plans to ask for a mask mandate in her Missouri school system on Wednesday after being bullied for wearing one.
At the moment, masks are optional at Windsor C1 Schools. Kids have the choice to come to class wearing one or not. But for 8-year-old Everylee Cox, a student at James E. Freer Elementary, a mask is non-negotiable.
“I do it to keep people safe but not just that, also to make sure people don’t get sick,” she said.
Cox said she’s one of only a handful of kids in her grade that wears a mask. Unfortunately, that’s made her stand out to bullies, one of whom went as far as pushing her against a gate during recess.
“He didn’t really say anything, all he did was just push me against the gate and walk away,” said Cox. “I’ve seen him side-eyeing me when I wear it and when we line up at lunch.”
In a statement, Windsor C1 Schools Superintendent Joel Holland said, “All allegations of bullying in our schools are taken seriously and the situation was handled and resolved promptly.”
But it’s not enough for Everylee and her family. The student goes on to say that her friends have had to deal with bullying too, prompting her to plan to ask for a mask mandate at Wednesday’s school board meeting.
“I mean, she’s the one having to go through this every day. It’s not me, us as parents; we’re not the ones going to school,” said Shirley Thomas, Everylee’s mother. “It’s her, it’s these kids. So I feel like maybe if they heard how she feels, maybe it might click something.”
Everylee and her mother will speak alongside three other kids.
News of Everylee’s plan comes as Jefferson County records its highest number of child COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 237 children under the age of 19 testing positive.
Young kids like Everylee aren’t eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine yet. That’s why wearing a mask and getting others to do the same is Everylee’s best hope.
The school board meeting will take place at Windsor High School, Wednesday night at 7 p.m.