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Video: Immunocompromised teen who asked for mask requirement booed during school board meeting

"As an immune-compromised person, I'm always at risk for coronavirus," she said.

An immunocompromised teenager explaining why she believes in a school masking requirement appeared to be booed by others in attendance at a local school board meeting.

Wearing a T-shirt that says "I matter" and a black face mask, with her sister sitting beside her, the sophomore took to the microphone at Monday evening's Anoka-Hennepin school board meeting to offer her thoughts on a masking policy for the upcoming school year. 

"As an immune-compromised individual, I feel like it is my job to educate the uneducated," she said, reading from her phone. "I'm sure many of you prioritize the safety of your children, and since you value the safety of them, you must demand that a mask should be mandated, right?"

At this point, boos can be heard in the background, slowly swelling as the teenager pauses. You can watch the moment here:

"It's OK, just keep going," Chair Marci Anderson tells her.

The teen then explains that wearing a mask protects both the mask-wearer and those around them more effectively than not wearing a mask.

"As an immune-compromised person, I'm always at risk for coronavirus and I'm always fighting for my physical well-being," she said, "so the least you could do is mandate masks. Thank you."

A brief flurry of applause can then be heard as the teenager stands up to leave the seat.

The board meeting was expected to be fraught. Members were expected to discuss COVID-19 policies for the upcoming school year, including the possibility of a mask mandate. Staunch anti-masking groups planned to attend, with anti-mask proponents among those who spoke before and after the teenager.

Related: List of Twin Cities school districts with, without, and undecided on mask mandate

The district ultimately implemented an indoor mask requirement for all people in kindergarten through sixth-grade settings, regardless of vaccination status. It's tied specifically to the local case rate, and may be updated weekly as the situation changes. Masks for students in grades seven through 12 are "strongly recommended" at this point, but not required.

About 3% of U.S. adults are considered immunocompromised, and health officials say the condition puts them at increased risk of experiencing "serious prolonged illness" due to COVID-19. They also may not build the same level of immunity from the COVID vaccine as others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended immunocompromised individuals receive a third dose of the COVID vaccine to help "ensure adequate protection."

Eleven days ago, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said recent data shows young people can contract COVID-19, and noted kids make up a higher percentage of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state than they did during the fall and winter surge.

She said the largest increase in hospitalizations has been among adolescents, adding that while the risk remains low, "the likelihood of children be hospitalized is greater in recent weeks.”

 

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