By CBSBoston.com Staff

TEWKSBURY (CBS) – A Tewksbury teenager is fighting the school’s mask policy, just days before students return to classrooms. Maximus Mattuchio said he thinks the masks send the wrong message to students.

“I want the masks to be able to come off,” Maximus said. “I want people to be more inclined to get vaccinated.”

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The 16-year-old is not happy about the statewide mask mandate for schools. In fact, the Tewksbury High School Junior created an online anti-mask petition and it’s getting a lot of attention.

“I got almost 300 signatures on this petition,” Maximus said.

He said wearing a mask is very personal. His grandfather passed away from COVID-19 six months ago.

“If vaccinated students can take the mask off, I guarantee you that unvaccinated students will be so much more inclined to be vaccinated because it’s incentivized, everyone wants to take the mask off,” Maximus said.

Recently the Tewskbury School Superintendent sent an email to parents and students explaining why the mask mandate will be enforced saying, “We will continue to work with the Tewksbury Police Department to provide a defined police presence to assure all students and staff are safe during our return to school.”

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Police say they will be at the schools as usual when the kids return back to the classrooms, but they will not be enforcing any mask mandate. Right now, school officials are still discussing internally how to handle those situations for students who refuse to wear a mask.

“I’ve talked to some of my friends, and they said they’re not going to be wearing their mask,” Maximus said.

Folks in Tewksbury have mixed reviews.

“The kids, you don’t know who they are going home to – grandparents and people going through chemo. It’s not worth the chance. You’re never going to get out of this unless we mask up again,” one woman said.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” another woman said. “Because the kids are not getting sick.”

Maximus Mattuchio said no matter what becomes of his petition he plans to take the high road.

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“I’m going to go about this respectfully, and I’m going to wear the mask,” Maximus said. “But you know I might have something on there to show that, you know, maybe I’m not fond of the whole idea.”

CBSBoston.com Staff