11-year-old mask resister faces down Burlington school leaders

Felix Hume, 11, Burlington

Editor’s note: Felix Hume is an 11-year-old mask resister in the sixth grade at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington. Here is his story, as told to Vermont Daily Chronicle August 26 by his mother, Jennifer Hume.

I spent countless hours last year having a pretty one sided conversation with Superintendent Tom Flanagan, and the principal and nurse of Edmunds Elementary School, and the Agency of Education and Department of Health.

They should have understood very well my reasons for not wanting my son to wear a mask for seven hours straight, including while playing hard in the sun outside. I was thorough and articulate again and again in emails, and phone calls.

What was surprising was that I never really understood their reasons for thinking it WAS a good idea for the kids to wear masks. I asked over and over to see the science, and I was particularly interested in the scientific explanation for how COVID went away magically at lunch time, or in crowded bars and restaurants, but could apparently be spread by my son alone on the playground. He was once even told by the recess teacher that if he didn’t put his mask on he’d be held back and repeat fifth grade!

Yesterday [Wednesday, August 25] he entered the building at 7:55 at the start of the day in a crowd of children, not wearing a mask, and no one noticed except a staff member who offered a mask and he shook his head and kept moving.

He made it through homeroom and band with no incidents, but at the end of band (around 10 am or so) some adult (Felix doesn’t know who it was) took note and asked Felix to come to his classroom. The two of them went to a room alone where this man told Felix his own 10 year-old-daughter had had a very bad case of COVID. Felix refused a mask and the man escorted him to the assistant principal.

Felix continued to refuse to wear a mask and the assistant principal asked Felix to go outside with them (uses they/them pronouns.) The assistant principal called me. I told the AP I supported Felix in his decision to not wear a mask. They ended the call and the principal called me, and I stated the same thing. I reminded the principal they have no legal authority to force my son to wear a mask, but that the constitution does state that he has the right to his education.

The principal asked me to come to the school. I did, and we spent some time discussing options. I clarified that they cannot force Felix to wear a mask. They suggested that if he were to enter without a mask it could be considered trespassing. We were all outside, and they wouldn’t let him back in the building. All doors were locked. He tried some of the windows and I asked him not to try to go in a window.

At this point, Felix told the principal he needed to pee. She stated he must wear his mask to go in to the bathroom. He eventually said he would, put on his mask, and the second he was in the door took it off and took off running! He found his classroom and was allowed to stay the rest of the day, as they had no authority to force him to leave.

Felix entered the building today maskless and stayed nearly all day. I came and got him early because of an incident tangentially related to the mask- more details on that once we’ve had the convo tomorrow morning, hopefully with the superintendent. (Unfortunately, Felix lost his temper during that incident, not in a way that harmed any other person, but he and I have discussed that he needs to stay calm even when it’s hard.)

Felix is now being isolated, forced to sit alone in a corner. They took the fan that was pointed at him and pointed it the other way, presumably to remove the germs from his section of the classroom.

He states that unlike last year, none of the kids seem interested in debating the mask issue with him, which is a great improvement. Last year there was a lot of bullying (You’re going to kill someone!!! etc.) This year, it’s just the grown-ups bullying.

Felix overheard three children complaining about their masks. He encouraged each one to take off the mask: “You see, you can take off your mask and they can’t do anything to you.” He said the teacher, Mrs. Ortiz, told him firmly he is not to tell the kids to take off their masks. I suspect this is part of why they seem desperate to figure out a way to keep him out of school.

Categories: Education

37 replies »

  1. I sure wish conditions were such that I didn’t have to wear my mask!

  2. Despite mom’s stating there isn’t any bullying go on as much this school year, I see quite a lot of it within the article’s content: The ADULTS in the Burlington School District are BULLYING this child!

    Leave these kids ALONE! You are overstepping your boundaries and your authority. IF a child becomes ill, that is up to the family to reconcile with in terms of their decision, NOT yours! Just STOP.

    • Hi Kathy, yes, I agree with you and I stated in what I wrote up that now the bullying seems to be coming from teachers.
      Last year it was both. There was one incident, last year at recess at Edmunds Elementary, where they were playing Capture the Flag and he chose not to wear his mask because it was hot and he was running. The teacher stopped the game, and when he wouldn’t put on the mask, brought out the principal, and when he would not comply they encouraged the children to tell him to put on his mask. He states he was surrounded by a mob of kids, leaving a circle with a 6 foot radius between him and them, all demanding he put on his mask so the game could continue. He was shaken by this incident and he himself emailed the principal demanding accountability and an apology- and got nothing.
      Incidents like that last year strengthened his resolve to continue standing up for what he believes. He’s a tough kid.

  3. This isn’t going to change… the powers that be will not change..unless they are voted out.. The solution for parents is to HOMESCHOOL….. The government schools will not change…Fear = Compliance = Submission…

    • Hi kingdomdweller582, I definitely thought about homeschooling this year and have been offering to my son to do so, even though I’m the only parent in our household so it would be challenging.
      Felix has turned down all my offers to homeschool. He wants to see this through in the public school.
      More than anything, we would like a respectful dialogue with the staff, superintendent etc in which they articulate their position. We just haven’t heard any meaningful explanations for this mask rule yet. I’m always open to learning and seeing things from others’ perspective. If they convinced me it’s in everyone’s best interest for the kids to be masked, then I would homeschool so that he can breathe. They haven’t been able to cite any scientific anything. I have asked many times and only been referred to the CDC website.
      I want our children to learn how to have thorough discussions and examine tough issues like this from every angle. I want them to learn how to back up their position articulately and how to concede gracefully if their opponent proves them wrong.
      Right now my son is just learning that he and I (and all you Vermonters who’ve put in so much hard work before school boards etc) are able to articulately defend our position and that the people making and implementing these policies aren’t interested in explaining the necessity or efficacy of their policies. We don’t like to say that we’re more mentally capable than anyone else, and we truly don’t believe that, either, but we would like to see some examples of the mental capabilities of those in charge of our children’s education! We will continue asking for meaningful, respectful, and thorough dialogue in which we examine this issue fairly from all angles.

      • Thanks for the reply Jennifer.. you and Felix have a tough road ahead but I give you all the encouragement I can muster.. I homeschooled my baby boy long ago, he’s 40 years old now… it worked for us and he often recounts the fun and enjoyment we had learning and exploring, so good luck to you and Felix, I wish you the best.

      • Thank you so much! And I do hope we can eventually make homeschooling work, too!

  4. Felix sounds like a great kid who has supportive parents who encourage him to resist stupid mandates. As you have stated, there is zero evidence that masks, especially the kind the children are provided with, do anything to block the transmission of Covid. They are annoying, impede breathing and cause a buildup of CO2.

    I think Felix would be happier if he were homeschooled and able to associate with like minded children. The adults at that school are clearly bullying him; appears to be child abuse to me!

    • Thank you for saying so, VTINDEPENDENT. I agree he’d be much happier spending all day with like-minded kids, and pursuing his interests and passions. We don’t like conflict.
      I hope we’ll connect with a homeschooling community here in Burlington- haven’t turned up any leads yet but I know they’re out there!
      And, YES, I agree and have been outspoken from the beginning, all of the restrictions and mandates amounted to child abuse. Children should never be cut off from their friends and support networks. They should never have their ability to breathe and move freely impaired without their consent. The tragedy of the children’s suffering during this time is beyond my ability to express in words.
      In our family, we understood that we must out of necessity keep doing the activities that kept us alive and healthy including socializing. But in some families, the children were quite completely isolated for a very long period of time and it’s almost too painful to contemplate, and so terrifying that the adults caring for these children weren’t concerned about the psychological devastation. I really wish there was a way to have a conversation with those folks.

      • Jennifer, Have you given thought to Catholic or Christian school? You do NOT need to be Catholic (as an example) for your child to attend, but I GUARANTEE he will be in the company of like-minded children (and adults) who are there teaching/learning about respect, tolerance, kindness, etc. You likely know that VT must now reimburse for what will likely be much of his tuition & before his stating he might not want to transfer – why not explore the possibilities by contacting such schools & visiting?

        I wish you BOTH the very best, but know from experience how bullying, over the long term, can stress a child and per chance break his spirit despite his very impressive tenacity! He IS a strong kid, nevertheless he deserves a break & some peace! Maybe check them out.

      • Kathy, thank you for the suggestion! I wasn’t sure if we could get reimbursed since Burlington offers a public school option- I was thinking it was only in the towns that don’t offer public school? In any case, I think it’s really valuable advice that you offer, reminding me that the stress can eventually wear down even the toughest kid. We’re definitely still having the conversation about other options.

    • Also, let’s not forget that the masks are really a red herring. The real issue is that children are at zero risk of serious CoVid. Further, there is evidence that getting CoVid when young is likely to be mild, and will allow the individual to develop natural immunities that will help mitigate severity of any CoVid caught later. Sort of like chicken pox–mild virus in children/awful disease in adults.

      • Masks have turned into a tool to allow the control freaks more control. There is a place for masks, but not everyday all day long, everywhere.
        Moderation, moderation is the word.

  5. @ Jennifer

    I know there are homeschooling groups here in VT. Someone has to be able to put you in touch with like minded families in your area; I don’t live in your area but if you strike out I’ll see if homeschoolers in my region know who to talk to. I believe there are also small groups of homeschooling “pods” forming which will share the educational responsibilities as well as give the kids a built in social group . As a single parent this sounds ideal for you. All the homeschool kids I know who are now young adults have turned out awesome, with many interests and talents. It would be ideal if you both got to really see homeschooling up close; Felix may think that it would mean he’d be sitting at a desk all day doing worksheets all by his lonesome!

    • I’m going to put my second email address here, don’t think that’s too risky and I would be so grateful for any leads from you or anyone reading this. Feel free to just pass on my address to any acquaintances too.
      I did look into groups in the last year, and couldn’t turn up anything. we’ve only lived in VT since late 2019 and busy working so I haven’t had time to network, plus most of our time here was pandemic-y. So really appreciate any ideas.

      Thank you!!

      • @ Jennifer

        You might try posting on FPF, asking for those who are homeschooling or interested in doing so to contact you. I wouldn’t get into details in the post- just look to connect with people.

      • Yes- I wish that were still an option! I burned the bridge with FPF when I wrote a post stating that in my opinion the masks together with all the other restrictions on kids amounted to child abuse. They immediately deleted my account with no explanation. I wrote asking why and they sent a link to their COVID misinformation policy.

  6. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t think the issue here is just masks. It’s that once again a customer/ constituent can’t get the school vender to respond to their needs. The school insists that they take what’s being offering. Is that about right? It sounds sort of like the EAST GERMAN car industry. How long will the citizens tolerate being deprived of the liberty to choose what schools, teachers, and curriculum they want to educate their children?

  7. Wow! THIS is plain insanity, WHERE is the “science” showing the efficacy of these cheesy masks & why don’t they state/cite the “science” proving THEIR point? Because there is NONE, note Ireland ditched their masks after their OWN studies showed they don’t DO anything but deprive people of needed oxygen. These…people are perfectly willing to deprive others of their Liberty & personal agency as 50% of the country, it seems, watch the daily screamers at the “networks” constantly drumbeating danger of the “others” who watch the 2 networks promoting freedom & choice & actually interview “dissenter” MD;s & scientists showing DATA proving their point. So THAT, and the promotion of Fauci to virtual sainthood while “social media” CENSORS the dissenters only makes people wonder WHY this censorship is legal and just what are they “hiding” by canceling questions/dissent? WE were always taught that SCIENCE WAS comprised of dissenters questioning tests & experiments until a consensus was reached by the majority through the PROOF of the outcomes yet now we are told to be quiet and question nothing? Question EVERYTHING, always! Otherwise we’d all be flat-earthers..Seems this panic will only end when Liberty prevails over Fear and the virus, like all virus’s, mutate into the oblivion of Muellers Ratchet.

  8. Jennifer Hume.
    You have taught your son to think for himself. Shows what kind of parent you are. A very good one. He is growing up to be a leader not a follower .As for the other students they were afraid of the teacher. Kids aren’t the bullies, it’s the adults who are the bullies.. The Superintendent, principal, nurse and teachers are threatening your son, trying to deny him his education. and that is against his constitutional rights. Depending on how far you want to take this, you have a case here. Putting your son in a corner all by himself, point a fan on him to push the germs away. What the He$$ is wrong with these people and why are they still teaching. They are the racists, they are the socialists. the idiots. They also are cowards, Because you and your son think for yourselves you are scaring them. They don’t know how to handle people who have a mind, who think for themselves. I applaud you both.. I bet they aren’t even Vermonters . Stay strong and keeps us informed on this. 3 cheers for Felix, .He is more a adult them those fools.

    • Thank you for your kind words and support! We are staying strong, and will certainly give updates.

  9. Jennifer, you are a mother who is trying to teach Felix to respect his own health and personhood. But there are times in life when we as loving human beings can choose, despite a personal inconvenience, to do something that may be in the best interest of someone besides ourselves. There is professional medical evidence that indicates that any one of us might be a carrier of this virus despite being fully vaccinated or apparently healthy. A face mask is a minor inconvenience. Would this not be a good time for Felix to learn that we have such choices in this life? I am an old man (now 86) who has had the opportunity to reflect upon some things where I now wish I had made a better choice….

    • @ Bob C

      There is zero evidence to show that wearing a face mask of the sort commonly worn by children and most adults (paper surgical or cloth) does anything to prevent the transmission of Covid. Surgical masks are NOT designed to prevent disease transmission but rather to catch any nasal or other secretions should a doctor or nurse cough on a patient or wound. Don’t believe me? Read the fine print on their packaging. Ditto for cloth masks.

      The only thing they do is increase CO2 levels in children, impair breathing, cause headaches and impair socializing. They are a magic talisman, providing emotional security to people who wear them and force others to wear them.

      I certainly don’t think an 11 year old should be forced to do this so you can feel “safe”. With all due respect sir, it’s YOUR responsibility to take the steps needed to provide for your own safety. Whether that includes multiple doses of the vax, wearing an N95 mask, isolating from others or any other steps, it’s not the responsibility of children to do this. Let them have a childhood; you already had yours!

    • Hi Bob, I so much appreciate your insights. This is exactly what I’ve wished for, to be able to speak with someone who is at risk for the more serious or deadly effects of the virus (I am assuming, because you said you are 86, that you would consider yourself at high risk). Since the very beginning I’ve argued passionately in favor of a solution that would protect those who wished for the highest level of protection, one hundred percent. I came up with various arrangements that would keep EVERYONE safe and healthy, which to me meant that kids would continue life as normal (this is healthy for them) and that high-risk people would make some major changes, voluntarily and with full support of government and community, which would be healthy for them.

      I’d be happy to go into the details of the scenarios I envisioned- let me know if anyone’s interested! I’m sure other readers have also devoted much thought to this.

      Over 600 thousand Americans have died of COVID (although I know it’s very questionable how a COVID death is determined to be that.) If we accept as a basic shared assumption that NO ONE should have to die of a transmissible disease who says they don’t want to (this seems to now be the premise) then we should have asked every individual who wanted the ultimate protection to give up some freedoms, and devoted those trillions of dollars to keeping those people perfectly protected but still not miserably isolated (e.g. we could pay ridiculously high wages to some young people who would voluntarily give up all their freedoms for a couple months to be a companion to an isolated high risk person…just to name one idea)

      It would involve a lot of restructuring but I believe we could have protected 100 percent every single person who wanted that. A lot of high-risk people did not want that. Many of my clients were high-risk but refused to wear masks or give up their social life, because they sensed on a deep level that their freedom was what has been keeping them alive all along.

      And then if every single person who wanted the highest level of protection received it, the kids could be free to be kids and there wouldn’t be the concern that they would spread it to those high risk people. They could still be taught to be respectful of space and germ sharing since there would have been large numbers of high risk people who did not voluntarily put themselves in the highest level of protected care. But they wouldn’t have to have their schools bleached, spray themselves with germicide, wear masks and the government wouldn’t have done such absurd things as removing basketball goals, playgrounds roped off, public toilets removed so that the homeless defecated on the ground where kids played (I saw this multiple times), etc.

      I agree that a face mask is a minor inconvenience (for most of us) when we’re in the store for an hour, but for me it was a major inconvenience at times when I had to wear it for several hours straight, or when I was in full sun. My son had to wear his longer than many adults ever had to, without a break. All the kids are wearing masks way more than many adults are. It was absolutely awful for him. I don’t think we can say it was a minor inconvenience. Even many adults aren’t able to tolerate it even for short periods of time.

      There are some parallels we could look at- for example, I react badly to all chemicals, perfumes, car exhaust, cigarette smoke. This means I have a lot of annoyances every day, just being outside, or in the store with people wearing strong perfumes. But many people don’t notice any of these things! Some people spray a product directly on their body that would put me in a living hell to have to breathe in all day. There is a huge range in what levels of discomfort people can handle, or even be ok with or not even notice, whether it’s with chemicals, noise levels, or cloth on our face.

      Please feel free to let me know if any of this seems reasonable- I also put my email earlier in these comments and I’m happy to chat by email too.

  10. The name Felix Hume will forever be remembered as the sensible, fearless, and bright child who took off his mask and walked out of school at 3:00pm safe and sound. He is a renegade, and adults in our community to aim to mirror his courage and admire his values. Who doesn’t like diversity of opinion? Haha!

    • Thank you Ben! These words mean so much to Felix and I. We’re hopeful that soon other children will join him!

  11. Jennifer I will forward this to your secondary email as well. One of many honest doctors with a soul and a spine out there absolutely destroying these infantilized and infantilizing boards of indoctrinated agents of the state:

    Double Board Certified Physician Dr. Rashida Ghauri Railing Against Pennsbury School Board – Masks August 2021

  12. I’m going thru the same. Im told if he don’t have a mask he can’t enter the school.

  13. I know I sound like a broken record… but does everyone not yet realize that School Choice Tuition Vouchers, allowing parents to choose the school they believe best meets the needs of their children, will virtually eliminate this debate? No, vouchers won’t solve the problem tomorrow. But creative and imaginative people, when given the opportunity, will find a way sooner than later. Or do we have to wait for the pitch forks and torches to come out of the closet before we defuse this circumstance with reason?