MASSAPEQUA, Nassau County (WABC) -- Students in the Massapequa School District returned to school Thursday after months of heated school board meetings, rallies, and parades to protest universal masks in schools.
Hundreds of parents in the school district have been fighting for the district to go mask optional, letting parents decide whether their child wears a mask to school.
The New York State Department of Health is mandating universal masking in schools.
Joe Brooks, of Massapequa, who dropped off his 13-year-old son Thursday morning at Berner Middle School said he "unwillingly" sent his son to school in a mask.
"It's just a bad message for the kids," he said. "These kids have been out all summer long doing their thing."
Berner parent Chere Urgo said her children don't mind wearing a mask to school.
"My kids honestly don't care," she said. "You know why they don't care? Because I'm not making a deal out of it in my home."
Urgo said she believes the vast majority of Massapequa parents support masks in school.
Bill Janusz, of Massapequa, said he is pleased with the school mask mandate, especially for unvaccinated younger children.
"I think we should keep the kids safe until we have better options," he said.
Nicole Lunz said she isn't happy that her fully vaccinated daughter has to wear a mask to school.
"I don't see a reason for it," she said. "I'm hoping they reverse the decision and leave it up to the parents."
Eyewitness News asked the Massapequa School District if they had 100 percent mask compliance from students Thursday. The District said they had "no issues."
Parents who are pushing for the mask optional policy are expected to attend a Massapequa Board of Education meeting Thursday night.
More than 700 parents have signed petitions to the school district requesting the district switch to a mask optional policy.
A student walkout across the country is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday in protest of masks in schools.
"This effort is gathering momentum in many Long Island districts, as well as our own," the Massapequa School District wrote in a letter to parents.
The letter warns parents that students who leave the school building during the school day will receive an infraction and will be disciplined.
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