A dozen protest vaccines, masks outside Rutland Middle School

Protesters at middle school

Madison Erhardt

A small group of protesters spent Wednesday afternoon outside Rutland Middle School rallying against masks and vaccines.

Approximately a dozen protesters were on hand with signs and flyers approaching students coming out of school at the end of the day.

Protest signs read "the jab is killing and disabling people," "void the vax" and "what is freedom without freedom of choice." The protesters consisted of the same dedicated group that has held mid-day protests multiple times a week in Kelowna in front of media organizations, school board offices, city hall, Interior Health's headquarters and Stuart Park.

Grade eight student Daniel says he was not happy about the protest location.

"I am not a big fan of it. The kids here are young. Some of them are in grade six so they are very young and impressionable and this would probably scare them a lot. It is not very appropriate to do it by a school."

A mother, Erin, who was picking up her child from the middle school says she was distraught to see protesters.

"Both my kids are immunocompromised. I wasn't a fan of being vaccinated either, but I got it done because of my children and the fact that six people very close to me I have lost. I am all about protesting. Do it. But why here when there is going to be like 300 kids come wandering down here. I saw them, there are people walking by and they are reaching out touching them."

During the protest, a student approached a protester, grabbed their sign and ran off. Police were on the scene during the event, but it is unknown if the protester got their sign back.

A province-wide policy regarding face masks for students in B.C. schools went into effect on October 4, meaning every student from Kindergarten to Grade 12 must wear a mask while indoors, including while seated at their desk.

Grade seven student Ella says she believes it's important for students to wear their masks.

"We should wear masks because it is not just to protect us, it is to protect other people who may be in need. People are being selfish like don't wear a mask. Someone you love could get COVID and because of you. They may die."

"I don't mind it. It is fine. I gotta do what I gotta do," Daniel said of the masks.

Another student noted that case counts in B.C. took off when the mask mandate was briefly lifted earlier this year, "what else is there to say?"

The provincial government has said it is working on drafting legislation that would outlaw protests outside hospitals and schools.

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