ELMHURST, Ill. - A fifth grader at Emerson Elementary School in Elmhurst is taking a stand against wearing a mask in the classroom.
"My mom gave me a good idea and she said 'I would totally support you if you stopped wearing one,'" said Emmett Thompson.
As a result, Emmett spends his school days in the principal’s office.
More than two weeks into his standoff, supporters rallied outside the school Thursday morning.
The parents, local residents and a few students carried signs with phrases such as "Free Emmett" and "Elmhurst supports Emmett."
"There’s kind of no science behind that masks are safer," Emmett said. "I (offered) solutions, like ‘Why can’t I stand like 6 feet away?' or stuff like that."
One mom bringing her son to school said she thinks masks are required for a reason.
"I would rather that he’s safe and rather that he takes care of the other students in the class who have the inability to get vaccinated or anything like that," said Vivian Moyle.
"If you’re required to wear a mask, you should wear a mask… protect everybody by masking up," Moyle said.
Emmett said he is used to facing opposition for his stance on masks.
"I respect other people’s opinions because a lot of people disagree with me. But my mom supports me. My family supports me so I just decided not to wear one," said Emmett.
Emmett’s supporters said masks in the classroom are an unnecessary nuisance that is impacting everything from their kids acne to mental health.
"This is a choice between imperfect choices," said Dan Decristofaro. "How do you make a good decision when all we’re hearing is 'mask, mask, mask, mask, mask'? But what we don’t hear about are the mental health impacts as a result of those masks."
For now, Emmett is the only child in the principal’s office for not wearing his mask but he tells FOX 32 at least one classmate is thinking of joining him.
"I am really proud of him," said Emmett’s mom, Elizabeth. "I think he’s been standing up for what he believes in and he’s making his own personal choice. And we’ve been using this as a teachable moment."
Wearing a mask indoors is the recommendation of the CDC to reduce your risk of being infected. It is also a state mandate.
A school district spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.