ELKO – A Wells-area parent announced he would take his unmasked children to school Tuesday in protest of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s mask mandate, then postponed his plan after one of the “concerned parties” involved came down with COVID-19.
Ruby Valley rancher Brian Gale is once again protesting the constitutionality of the mandate in Nevada, and stated over the weekend that he planned to hold a gathering Tuesday before taking his children to school unmasked.
Last month, Gale wrote an open letter to Sheriff Aitor Narvaiza after he said his children were turned away from Wells Combined School. Narvaiza responded that his office does not enforce mask mandates such as the one imposed by the governor on schools that reach a threshold number of COVID-19 cases.
Gale claims that the mandate deprives his children of a free public education in violation of the 14th Amendment. If the Wells school administration does not re-enroll them, he challenged Narvaiza to arrest the principal for violating the Constitution.
“Together we can show his Highness the Governor that there are proud Nevadans unwilling to accept his unilateral infringement of our God-given rights,” Gale wrote. “If you are unwilling to stand now, will your grandchildren be able to stand later?”
In June, Elko County Commissioners voted unanimously to join the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a group that believes federal and state government authorities are subordinate to local government authority.
Commissioner Rex Steninger responded Monday to Gale’s letter, asking him to be patient and to reconsider his plans. He said Narvaiza “is responsible for protecting our rights by enforcing the laws and I am confident he always will. I am also confident that he will refuse to enforce unjust laws. But it is not his responsibility to determine the constitutionality of the mask mandate for students. Determining the constitutionality of law is the job of our judicial system.”
Narvaiza wrote last month that “Fighting amongst ourselves in this County will not solve anything. I will continue to work with County Commissioners and our legal team to fight against unlawful mandates and to find solutions that work for us as a community, together as one.”
Nearly all of the schools in the Elko County School District have been under a student mask mandate for weeks. According to Nevada’s COVID website, there have been 524 student cases and 66 staff cases since the school year began. These numbers include 22 student and six staff cases at Wells Combined School.
Elko County currently has the highest per-capita rate of COVID-19 in Nevada.