After 8-year-old’s COVID hospitalization, Salem mothers urge schools to mandate masks

Local News

SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – The number of children under 18 testing positive for COVID-19 continues to rise in Ohio. In late May, 15 percent of all Ohio cases were under 18 years old. By July 25, it was up to 16 percent. It peaked on August 29 at 29 percent and the latest update as of September 12 has cases of kids back to 25 percent.

Tonight, we have the story of 8-year-old Elijah Mason of Salem, who tested positive and was hospitalized for a short time. His mother, Amber Padula, has removed him from Salem City Schools because masks are not required.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is pleading with local school districts to implement their own mask mandates. We reached out multiple times to representatives of Salem City Schools but were unsuccessful in getting a response from them.

“He couldn’t hold himself up anymore, he just kept falling over. Then I couldn’t get him to open his eyes,” Padula said.

Moments of terror as Mason had to be hospitalized for a short time with COVID-19. He is a third grader in Salem City Schools and Padula notified them that day her son tested positive.

“The health department and the hospital are both considering contact time would have started with him last Thursday,” Padula said.

She said the school didn’t seem to believe her when she notified them.

“They basically said that test didn’t count because I did it at home. When I talked to the department of health, says 100 percent those are diagnostic acceptable tests,” Padula said.

Other parents we spoke to have similar concerns.

“Parents are reporting that their kids are coming home and telling them that people in their classroom have been absent and the school hasn’t contacted these families,” said mother Michelle Bails.

Bails has been asking for a mask mandate since before school started. She even spoke to the board directly at a meeting.

“It has become political but for me, it’s science,” Bails said. “The attitude around here has been very much, ‘I need to show my freedom by not wearing a mask. Nobody can tell me what to do. This is America.'”

Another mother, Bekka Russell, also spoke at that meeting.

“What we’re learning about our school district is that we listen to children who are neurotypical and we listen to children who are normal, healthy, but we don’t listen to concerns of other parents,” Russell said.

All three mothers say they just want the school board to mandate masks and contract trace.

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