A protest took place outside of Steubenville’s Board of Education meeting Wednesday afternoon and bled into the regularly scheduled meeting.

The crowd gathered in protest of the decision made by the board to make masks in schools mandatory.

“It was really just for people to exercise their 1st Amendment,” State Representative Ron Ferguson said.

Ferguson organized a rally taking place across the street from the board of education offices, calling attention to the policy. The group then headed to the meeting which featured speakers who all urged the board to reconsider the mandate put in place last week.

Protesters wanted a mask-optional policy, giving the power to the parents, as many see masks with having a negative impact.

“I’ve got a granddaughter who’s in kindergarten at Wells Academy,” Barry Bardone said. “First thing she does when she gets in the car is take it off and say I can breathe again. I ask her what’s wrong and she says this masks stinks, after lunch you get all the food and everything the particles get on the mask.”

“And she goes, I’m talking to my friends, they’re like robots, because I can’t see their face.”

The board also heard from a local physician who believes the policy should change.

“If you look at all the peer-reviewed data out there right now, articles about masking and even others, but particularly masking, they say whether you mask or don’t mask isn’t really mattering,” Trinity Sports Medicine Medical Director Dr. Michael Scarpone said.

He said there are other steps the city’s schools are taking that do help with preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“I think the ventilation things they’re doing here are fantastic,” Scarpone said. “That’s a thing that’s been shown to work. The cleaning, all those kinds of things.”

No action was taken at the meeting, leaving many disappointed.

“I hope they vote to make it a parent’s choice,” Bardone said. “If you want to send your child to school with a mask bless them. But if you don’t, don’t get mad at them.”

The latest COVID-19 guidance is posted on Steubenville City Schools’ website.