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How I Obtained a Conscientious Exemption From Mask-Wearing at School for My Child

Summary:
I have studied the principles of natural law, and I am clear that the inherent freedom of choice of every individual is the ultimate foundation of life on Earth. How these principles became the basis for real-world action occurred when I heard that my school board had decided, quite of their own accord, while professing to be ‘following the direction’ of the public health office of a neighboring district, that children in grades 1-3 in their schools would also be required to wear masks in school. I will give you the whole story of my quest for a conscientious exemption from mask-wearing for my son as I am not entirely sure which of my actions actually turned the result in my favor. I do this to empower everyone with a full

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I have studied the principles of natural law, and I am clear that the inherent freedom of choice of every individual is the ultimate foundation of life on Earth. How these principles became the basis for real-world action occurred when I heard that my school board had decided, quite of their own accord, while professing to be ‘following the direction’ of the public health office of a neighboring district, that children in grades 1-3 in their schools would also be required to wear masks in school.

I will give you the whole story of my quest for a conscientious exemption from mask-wearing for my son as I am not entirely sure which of my actions actually turned the result in my favor. I do this to empower everyone with a full understanding of what we are dealing with in terms of school mask mandates and the manner in which school boards are trying to implement them. I am in Ontario, Canada so things might be different in different countries, but I believe that the ultimate application of natural law and our natural freedom of choice can and should be pursued anywhere in the world.

My journey began with an internet search of my school board, a phone number of the communications office which undersigned the announcement of the mandate, and my phone call to that office asking how I would apply for a conscientious exemption. Through voice mail the officer said I should be in touch with the principal, who said I should be in touch with the superintendent, who said I should speak to the trustee, who said I should go back to the superintendent. This is a process that went on for two weeks and ultimately gets us to the first day of school and this letter I sent to all the trustees who, it seemed to me, made up the school board and hence collectively made the ultimate decision that was affecting me.

My Letter to the Trustees

Dear Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board Trustees,

Here it is, Tuesday, September 8th, 2020, the day that DPCDSB schools open, and I have not received the information I need to make an informed decision on whether or not I should send my son to school. He is slated to begin the Grade 1 French Immersion program at St. Pio de Pietrelcina.

After initially voicing my concerns about mandatory masking and applying for an exemption on conscientious grounds to a school board representative I was directed to the principal of St. Pio de Pietrelcina. She was polite and took my concerns seriously, but said that she had no latitude to make any decisions on exemptions on conscientious grounds. She suggested I speak to the superintendant.

I spoke first to the superintendant’s assistant, who was polite and took my concerns seriously, and said I would have to speak to the superintendant.

I spoke to the superintendant, who was polite and took my concerns seriously, but said that they had not received any ‘direction’ from health officials about qualification for medical exemptions. When I reiterated the point that I am seeking a conscientious, and not a medical exemption, she said that I should talk to the trustee for my school’s area.

I spoke to the trustee, who was polite and took my concerns seriously, but didn’t feel he was in any position to advance my cause. He referred me back to the superintendant, who, according to him, would contact me to let me know how I can make my request for an exemption to the school board.

I understand that these are trying times and things are changing rapidly, but I still believe you would agree that I’m getting the runaround. And the school year has already started.

So I will simply make my case in this letter, and I hope this letter will be able to cut through the bureaucracy and be read by all DPCDSB trustees, to whom it is addressed. I am requesting an official response undersigned by at least a majority of the school board members, who are directly responsible for the fact that, at present, my son is being forced to wear a mask at school in order to receive a public education.

Request for a Conscientious Exemption for my son from wearing a mask in school  

My fervent belief is that all directives related to ‘mandatory’ mask wearing in Canada are illegal and infringe on the rights of individual Canadians, based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

However, in this letter I will speak specifically to my son’s case. At present, the DPCDSB has decided to unilaterally mandate mask-wearing for Grade 1 students (this particular decision was not imposed upon them by Peel Public Health). And so my son, who is supposed to begin the Grade 1 French Immersion program at St. Pio de Pietrelcina in a few days, is being forced to wear a mask in order to get a public education.

I will cite a small portion of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and explain how it applies in this case:

1.      The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

2.       Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

I believe that forcing my 6-year old son to wear a mask may cause psychological and physical harm to him. Therefore, as his legal guardian, I cannot in good conscience allow this to happen. In mandating mask-wearing for my son, you violate my freedom of conscience as well as my son’s freedom of conscience, as he does not want to wear a mask.

Two more points, while not essential to my argument, serve to highlight my belief that the decision by the DPCDSB to mandate masks for young children in school shows an egregious lack of responsibility and concern for the health and well-being of the children who have been entrusted under their care:

1.       There is NO science, meaning no randomized control trials, which suggest that wearing a mask might have any impact in reducing the spread of a virus. In fact, any studies investigating the ability of masks to stop the spread of a virus have concluded that masks are not effective at all in this regard. (source) Mask mandates are based on the ‘opinions’ of Public Health Officers (political appointees) that ‘mask-wearing may have benefits’, opinions which are not grounded in the science.

2.       The statistics, which clearly show that low infectivity rates and a virtually zero mortality rate among children, would suggest that what would really be in the best interest of children’s health and well-being would be a normal return to school, without masks, distancing, cohorting, sanitizing, and any other measures. This has been the belief of many researchers and scientists in that very field of study whose views have been suppressed or marginalized in the media.

In other words, going back to section 1 of the Charter, I do not believe these measures have been ‘demonstrably justified.’

That being said, the main point of this letter is to get an answer to my request that my son be permitted to attend school without a mask, based on my conscientious objection. If denied, my son will not be going to school and I will begin to consider notices of liability to those on the DPCDSB responsible for implementing policy, who in my opinion have far overstepped their authority in attempting to enforce mandatory masking in their schools, especially for students in Grades 1-3 which was not imposed upon them by Peel Public Health and was a unilateral decision.

Thank you,

Richard Enos

The Response

Now it becomes interesting, when you are going about the business of standing up for your inherent rights, to wonder what drives otherwise busy and difficult-to-reach people into responding and suddenly having answers.

It was either the same day or the next morning that the vice-principal of the school contacted me and told me he was going to send the exemption form to me and that I should fill it out. I made it clear to him that I was requesting a conscientious and not a medical exemption, and he told me that I should fill it out nonetheless so that the school authority would have on record exactly what kind of exemption I am seeking, and I agreed I would do so.

Meanwhile, one of the trustees forwarded my email to the school board’s director of education, saying that this would end the ‘runaround’ I had been experiencing. And sure enough, the director of education sent me an email the same day, saying the following:

I am aware that the school has recently reached out to you to provide you with the documentation required to request an exemption. Given that you have identified the adverse negative psychological impact of wearing a mask on your child, I would encourage you to request an exemption.

Now I was intrigued by the phrasing ‘you have identified the adverse negative psychological impact…’ given that all I said was that I believed wearing a mask ‘may cause psychological and physical harm to him.’ So in essence, she reframes my conscientious exemption as a medical exemption.

I nonetheless filled out my exemption form, being as explicit as I possibly could that I was filing a conscientious objection. In fact, reading it, I don’t think that anyone can confuse this with a ‘medical’ exemption (the part I wrote is in bold and italics).

My Exemption Request

MASK ACCOMMODATION/EXEMPTION REQUEST FORM

I am requesting an exemption for my child from wearing a non-medical face mask while at school, (which includes indoor during the school day, transportation and in any before and after school program for the following reason(s):

REASON

I believe wearing a mask is potentially harmful to my son’s psychological and physical health. I cannot in good conscience allow my son to be required to wear a mask while in school. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms indicates the following:

  1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
  2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: a) freedom of conscience and religion;

Based on the current science and current statistics I have researched (I do not include them here but would be willing to provide them if requested), I contend that mandating mask-wearing for children in school has not been ‘demonstrably justified,’ thereby liberating me to act in good conscience and demand that my son be exempt from having to wear a mask while in school.

ⅅ I have attached supporting documentation (please note that medical documentation is not required)

The Response

I sent the document and reminded the vice-principal in my email that my son would not be attending school until this exemption had been confirmed.

Lo and behold, this message from the school was in my inbox the next morning:

Hello

Kellen’s mask exemption has been approved.

His first day back at school will be Monday September 14th 2020

But this is not the end of the story. I found this email to be oddly informal for a matter of such obvious importance to me. It was not undersigned by anyone, only the school signature was underneath, and there was no signed copy of the exemption form attached, which on the second page had checkboxes indicating who had been informed of my son’s exemption (teacher, bus driver, librarian, etc.)

This was Wednesday, September 9th, and because of staggered entry my son was only to start the following Monday, having already missed his orientation day. I immediately sent a reply stating that I wanted to know who actually sent me the email, and who had approved the exemption. By Monday I had not heard back from the school, and consequently I kept my son home. The school called and left a message inquiring about my son’s absence. In response, I wrote a rather sharply-worded email explaining that I will not be sending my son to school until my questions were answered.

I received a phone call a few hours later from a very agitated principal. I got her to say that the email was ‘from the school,’ and therefore, yes, ‘from her’. As to who approved the exemption, she said she didn’t know. She said she sent the exemption form to the superintendent and was later sent a curt email that the exemption had been ‘approved’. That’s all she knew. She was not at all happy with the general lack of information she was receiving from the school board. I did my best to help bring a conciliatory tone to the conversation and noted that it seemed like the principal was more a victim than a cause of this confusion.

And so I was left to assume that the Director of Education must have approved the exemption, since the Superintendent told me that she herself didn’t have the power to approve an exemption based on conscience. I sent an email to the Director of Education, demanding to know who had approved my son’s exemption. You wouldn’t believe what her answer was:

I regret the experience you are having regarding your request for a mask exemption.  The principal is the individual who has the authority to approve a mask exemption.  That said, it is ultimately my responsibility to ensure principals have all the necessary information to carry out the responsibilities we task them with.  I will continue to work to ensure that our principals have a fulsome understanding of the process and support them in implementation.

Where I am at Now

This email was the final nail in the coffin for me. I spoke with my wife and we both agreed that we didn’t feel comfortable having my son in an institution that demonstrated such a lack of accountability from top to bottom. We have pulled our son out of public school and have begun homeschooling him. However, I know this is not an option for many, especially for those whose children indicate that they want to go to school and see their friends. So this article is more for those parents, to come to an understanding of what they are dealing with and what their rights are.

The way I see it, these bureaucrats are all part of a top-down control structure, from the Ministry of Education through the public health offices, and down through the school boards’ director of education, trustees, superintendents, and principals. One of the necessary qualifications for these jobs is a willingness to take and implement orders from above, rather than asserting critical and independent thought. At all levels people know that opposing directives from above based on their independent thought would likely mean termination.

Consequently, I see these people are acting (and reacting) from the state of fear that they have been subjected to. I’m not really interested in continuing to investigate these people to try to figure out who is lying and who might be liable for damages. My experience confirms for me the reality that this whole interlocked, top-down system of education, as with other systems under government control, has a clear and specific agenda to augment their control and to willingly deceive people about their rights and freedoms protected by the charter.

The way they are doing it is by forcing those lower down the ladder to actually assume the legal responsibility for enacting and enforcing these measures, without giving those people any choice as to whether or not they actually believe it is good to implement them. Speaking to all levels of the school board was an exercise in a perpetual ‘passing of the buck’ where I could not find a single person willing to stand behind or take ownership of any of these mandates or the justification for them.

The good news here is that this is a situation ripe for all individuals, and particularly parents of young children, to exercise their rights of conscience and request (read: demand) a conscientious exemption from mask-wearing for their child. Of course it requires courage and persistence, and perhaps even a willingness to keep their child out of school as I did until the matter is resolved. But if you feel within you a burning desire to stand up for your rights under these circumstances, I hope my story has helped to equip you to do just that.

This article was originally published on my own website daocoaching.com.

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