A group of Old Rochester mothers of both junior high and the high school students protested during dismissal this afternoon. The moms believe that students in the Old Rochester district should have a choice about whether or not they wear masks at school.

Kristina Mullin from Rochester told us why she helped organize the protest.

"We are primarily trying to unmask our children, and we are really looking for people to have the freedom of choice in this matter," she said.

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Another protester, Karen Thomas, said when she saw the statewide online Facebook group, she decided to launch a local page. Since then, in-person protesting began at Rochester Memorial a few weeks ago. The group then decided to move the protest to the Old Rochester Junior and Senior High Schools today.

According to Mullin, the strategy is to educate people that they should have a choice.

"Our children should not be forced to wear masks at school," she said. "There is lots of science to support it. People should be allowed to make their own choice and be able to pick either way."

Mullin said there are more people who support her, but are afraid to speak out.

"We're trying to show other people on the SouthCoast that they're not alone," she said. "We're finding that this community that believes the same things we believe is getting larger and larger every day, and we're trying to build awareness that there are places to turn to and that there are other people that feel this strongly. We need to join together. We are stronger in numbers."

While the protest is taking place at schools in the Old Rochester district, the group, called Mattapoisett Marion Rochester MA Against Mandates, understands that the meaningful decisions are going to be made at the state level. While the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education alone has the power to change school policy across the state, Thomas and Mullin believe that if the state starts getting pushback from the local level that things may start to change.

Old Rochester Regional High School Principal Mike Devoll offered no comment about the protest.

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