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Anti-maskers target Kelowna school children

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
October 05, 2020 - 11:52 AM

Sandra Middleton was outraged when she stopped by Rutland Middle School this morning, Oct. 5, to pick up school work for her child.

Lined up by the crosswalk on Rutland Road were half a dozen people with signs and leaflets advising the children not to wear masks because of COVID-19.

“It’s probably better that I didn’t confront them,” Middleton told “I was pretty angry. The one boy (who was handed a flyer), who really sparked my anger, he didn’t look to be more than nine years old, just this tiny kid. They were stopping the kids and telling them to use their own minds, to not just do what they’re told.”

The signs held similar statements.

This is a photo of the leaflet handed out to children at Rutland Middle School in Kelowna, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.
This is a photo of the leaflet handed out to children at Rutland Middle School in Kelowna, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Kevin Kaardal

She went into the school to see if staff could get rid of them but was told that, technically, the protesters were not on school property.

This was at about 8:40 a.m. Students gather around the outside the school but don’t go in until just before 9 a.m. Staff were outside and seemed to be trying to keep the students away from the unmasked adults who were not safe-distancing, Middleton said.

By the time she left, there was a police officer out near the protesters and three police cars on site.

“I don’t care if they want to protest,” Middleton said. “I do support the right to protest but not to children.”

They did start their protest on school property, School District 23 superintendent Kevin Kaardal said.

"They were originally on school property, that’s why a school resource officer showed up just because they were not as cooperative at the beginning as they could have been," he said. "When the found out they could be on public property, on a sidewalk, they just went there.

"The kids were great. They get it. They understood that masks were there to protect others, not really yourself so much. They're more protection from you not causing a lot of droplets to be on somebody else."

The protesters stayed until about 9:30 a.m., he said. This was the first such event he knows of at any of the district's schools.

 — This story was updated at 4:41 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5, 2020 to add comment from Kevin Kaardal and a photo of the leaflet.

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