Finch Elementary principal explains why he protested mask mandate

SPOKANE, Wash. — The principal of Finch Elementary is addressing families following his decision to not wear a mask at school on Tuesday. 

Shane O’Doherty was one of three employees escorted out of school for refusing to comply with the state mandate. 

In his note to families, O’Doherty said he chose to participate in the “peaceful protest” because of his “passion to help young people grow into great people.” 

“I cannot stress enough that I am very concerned for our young people, their education, and their social and emotional well-being,” he wrote. “I strongly believe our students are being negatively impacted by wearing masks on each of these levels.”

O’Doherty expressed a belief that masks are causing a negative impact on communication between educators and teachers. He also said it is difficult for teachers to pick up on cues from students when their faces are covered. 

“I felt then and feel now our district needs to open a serious discussion regarding what is putting children at greater risk: the lack of FACE TO FACE connection impeding the social and emotional growth of our children, or a marginally effective policy against an illness marginally threatening to young people,” he wrote. “Both are important, but as an educator and parent, I feel our kids need not only their education but their WHOLE health considered.” 

Spokane Public Schools is required to enforce the state’s mask mandate. In August, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction announced that schools that do not follow the mandate could lose state funding. 

O’Doherty has been placed on administrative leave.

Read the full letter below. 

Letter to the Community by Erin Robinson on Scribd

READ: Spokane educator explains why she refused to wear a mask at Finch Elementary

RELATED: Finch Elementary employees, principal escorted out for refusing to wear masks, sources say