When paediatrician Dr. Tracie Newman ran for a seat on the school board last year, the Fargo county health officer won by a landslide. At the time, fellow Fargo parents eagerly voted for the healthcare provider, considering her necessary expertise amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

But local families have since changed their tune, petitioning to unseat Dr. Newman in light of her suggestion that students wear masks at school, the Wall Street Journal reports. She is one of four board members currently facing a recall due to differing opinions on Covid protocols.

Despite Newman having received a Hero Award from Sanford Health, the hospital system for which she works, as well as a YMCA nomination for Woman of the Year just some months ago, fellow Fargo residents have deemed the doctor untrustworthy due to her support for masking indoors.

“People are questioning my motives and my ability as a paediatrician,” Newman told the journal. “That’s never happened to me in my professional life.” Indeed, parents have collected at least 3,000 signatures in support of recalling Dr. Newman come January.

People are so publicly angry with Newman’s guidance that she’s started using discreet back doors to join school-board meetings, desperate to avert irate community members — some of whom even sent an image of Newman unmasked at a gala to the local paper, alleging it demonstrated her hypocrisy.

Since the school board voted 6-3 to adopt Dr. Newman’s pro-mask position, Newman has received various ominous voicemails accusing the doctor of being bribed by mask manufacturers, with some threatening to ruin her career. Newman is understandably frightened, especially with three children enrolled in the school district that’s turned against her.  “That lack of anonymity, I’m aware of it all the time,” she said.

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“At first, it was arguing with my guidelines. Then it was disagreeing with the data I was using,” she recalled. “Now, the third and ugliest stage is people attacking my integrity.”

Newman says that, at times, she is unsure whether or not she actually wishes to stay on the board. But she remains motivated by the desire to keep school children safe.

“I want to do what’s best for kids.”

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