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Students at Seattle Public Schools protest mask mandate ending with walkout

The students want a mask requirement in place for Seattle Public Schools until two weeks after the district's spring break.

SEATTLE — A group of Seattle Public School students want the district to bring back its mask requirement. Students walked out of class Monday and gathered in front of the district's building demanding the change.  

Students chanted outside the building that they want a mask mandate. It's estimated more than 100 students attended. They came from across the district. 

"In order for everybody to be safe we should compromise. Hear each other's voices and respect it," said Camille Gacer, a member of the Seattle Student Union and sophomore at Lincoln High School. 

The walkout was organized by the Seattle Student Union. The students want a mask requirement in place at Seattle Public Schools (SPS) until two weeks after the district's spring break, which is scheduled to begin April 11. 

"It's really important to recognize the immunocompromised and other people so we king of dropped everything because this was really big news," said Luciana Lovik, who's also a member of the Seattle Student Union and a sophomore at Lincoln High School.

Last week, the state's mask mandate expired, allowing students to choose whether they wanted to wear a mask in the classroom. 

SPS acknowledges the lifting of the mask mandate came fast and didn't allow for an extended time for adjustment. 

Data from SPS shows cases have been cut in half since late February. Last week the district reported 67 new cases, all of which were students. 

Gacer and Lovik say every day they're seeing fewer classmates masking up. They're now concerned about the new Omicron variant, BA.2. It's spreading right now across the U.S. and may lead to another spike in cases. Initial reports consider it more contagious than Omicron, but it doesn't appear to be more severe. 

"When people say 'Oh it's okay you can take off your mask.' It's not really okay yet and even thought it's not super bad yet, it can get really bad," said Lovik. 

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