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Neenah mom’s fight over a mask and her autistic son’s right to learn

Local News

NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) So what’s a parent to do if their autistic child can’t learn when wearing a mask? It’s a very real struggle for a Neenah mother and son.

“When I have it fully on I won’t get enough air. So I feel like I’m going to suffocate.” Blake Reagan describes how he feels wearing a face covering.

Blake has autism and ADHD and getting him to wear a mask is not so easy.

Megan Reagan, Blake’s mom says, “Fidgeting with his mask because he can’t breathe is just more of an interference than him being able to focus on his learning, plus it’s causing him rashes and stuff on the back of his neck.”

Blake’s scratches from face mask lanyard

Blake attends Taft Elementary in Neenah and because of his disabilities, his mom has tried to get a facemask exemption.

Reagan says, “His doctor wanted him to try different types of masks first before he would officially exempt him.”

Taft Elementary has tried to find Blake several comfortable masks but his mom says the masks aren’t the issue. “He has a problem with all of them. It’s not the style of facemasks that’s the issue. Its the fact that it’s still covering his nose and his mouth and he feels like he can’t breathe normally.”

The Neenah School District provided this response:

The Neenah Joint School District always makes safety a priority and that includes everyone wearing masks. We continue to work with families as students make this transition. In this specific case, we do not have an exemption from a medical professional. We are also aware some students have experienced challenges in wearing school lanyards which are completely optional. We will continue to work with students to help them adapt to this changing learning environment.

Jim Strick, Neenah Joint School District Communications Manager

Megan says when she sends her son to school she shouldn’t have to deal with a facemask or the optional lanyard because Gov. Ever’s face mask order exempts her son.

Individuals are exempt from the face-covering order, including individuals under the age of five and individuals who have trouble breathing, a medical condition, intellectual or developmental disability, mental health condition, or other sensory sensitivity that prevents the individual from wearing a face covering.

Gov. Evers Emergency Order #1

Reagan says, “It is super frustrating because Blake obviously has disabilities and can’t speak for himself so a parent with kids with disabilities has to be able to speak out for them.”

The Neenah School District also told Local Five that they will continue to work with students to help them adapt to this changing learning environment.

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