The parents of 7-year-old Sofia Steele — who has Down syndrome — say their daughter came home from school recently with a mask tied around her head and neck with nylon rope.
Sofia’s father, Dr. Jeffrey Steele, explained during a recent press conference alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) that his wife first noticed the blue rope around their daughter’s neck after school one day in early October.
Given Sofia is non-verbal and suffers from sensory issues as well as an oversized tongue, Steele, who works in hospice care, believed his young child was exempt from having to wear a face covering at her Brevard County, Florida, school.
The mask, Steele recalled, was saturated with Sofia’s saliva when she returned home.
“We were not aware this was happening,” the father explained, noting Sofia has an individualized education program, so they assumed she “was not being masked at school because she was not coming home with a mask tied on her face, except this one day, on Oct. 7.”
Steele claimed the teacher and school administrators decided to tie the mask around Sofia’s head without contacted him or his wife to discuss the issue, even though the school was regularly communicating with them regarding other matters involving Sofia.
The distraught father said he then met with the school’s principal and his daughter’s teacher. It was during that encounter he learned the school had allegedly been using the nylon rope to tie Sofia’s mask onto her face every day for the preceding six weeks.
“And the reason the teacher complied with it was for the purpose of the mandate that was given by the school board, 3-2,” Steele said. “Three people are deciding on the health of my child rather than any phone call to those who take care of Sofia every single day.”
“This is a major problem that’s happening,” he added. “And this should wake people up to what is actually going on, because I, as a parent, I believe personally … it has nothing to do with masks and science and everything to do with power and control.”
According to The Federalist, Steele has been unable to get into contact with Jennifer Jenkins, a leftist member of the Brevard County School Board who has advocated the mask mandate in schools.
Jenkins, for her part, appeared on MSNBC in mid-October, where she claimed she has been harassed by critics who have leveled vague threats against her and raised concerns about supposed instances of child abuse occurring in schools as a result of COVID-related rules.
“This has been so difficult for me and my family and the people who care about us and love us,” she said. “But I have done my best to not put that out in the public. I wanted people to know that I am strong. I am here for them and I will continue to fight for them and I will never give up on that, but I also didn’t want the people who were doing this to me [to know] that it did affect me.”
Any sort of attacks against Jenkins are, of course, wrong. So, too, is the supposed way Sofia has been treated for the last month and a half as a result of the county’s mask rule.
The school board, it should be noted, voted this week to extend the mask mandate another 30 days. The renewed policy, which requires students in Pre-K through sixth grade to wear face coverings, will expire Nov. 29.
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