WVWC removes student athlete for failure to comply with mask mandate

BUCKHANNON — Kilee Boone, former freshman athlete at West Virginia Wesleyan College, was allegedly deemed “unfit” to be a student and kicked off campus after multiple boards and committees reportedly denied her medical exemption from wearing a mask.

Boone was accepted to WVWC to receive an education this fall, and to play soccer for the Lady Bobcats. While sending in all necessary paperwork and documentation to become a student, her mother reportedly called and spoke with the college about their “mask exemption process” as the college enforced and mandated masks for all students and staff at the beginning of the semester. Boone said she has a medically documented condition which prevents her from wearing a facial covering. Her mother spoke with John Bohman, who reportedly stated that he is “the head of the committee that handles these things,” and told them it “shouldn’t be an issue whatsoever.” Boone then submitted her medical documentation to Bohman, as well as the Student Health Forms department. Two days later, the Student Health Forms department emailed back, reportedly saying they had “processed the forms and completed the file.” Boone and her mother said they did not hear from Bohman or that department again.

On August 14, Boone arrived to the WVWC campus to register in person. Even though masks were mandated at all times indoors, she did not wear one due to her medical exemption. The new student said she made it through the entire check-in process and moved into her dorm without being confronted for not wearing a facial covering. After visiting the library, cafeteria, athletic facilities, classrooms, etc., she told The Record Delta she thought the college had processed her medical exemption, and that she was in the clear.

Boone said she was happy, adjusting and settling into the college as a freshman. However, she received an email from Alison Whitehair four days later, reportedly stating that the “committee”—whose job it was to review requests for medical exemptions from facial coverings—had denied her request. Boone was confused as she had never been asked to submit an additional “request” and was only advised to send in her medical paperwork, after which she was allegedly told she’s “good to go.”

Boone submitted her doctor’s statement for medical exemption again, explaining she had already sent the information to Bohman and the Student Health Forms department. Her exemption was reportedly denied again.

Boone then requested a meeting with the Dean to discuss the matter. Dean Moore accepted the request to meet, but reportedly told Boone that masks were required for the meeting. As the issue at hand was that Boone cannot be masked due to a medical condition, she asked if they could meet virtually or meet outdoors. Both of those proposed compromises were allegedly denied by Dean Moore.

According to Boone, Dean Moore delegitimized and discredited her doctors in Michigan, and told her she could make an appointment to be seen by a “non-biased” Community Care physician on campus. Although Boone was reluctant, she followed through with seeing an on-campus physician.

Boone explained, “The physician I saw there had no interest in considering my medical condition whatsoever, instead shaming me about the importance of wearing a mask.” The physician reportedly told Boone, “If I can wear a mask for 16 hours, so can you.” Boone contacted her primary physician in Michigan again and subsequently received two additional notes from doctors explaining the necessity of her medical exemption. Still, the expertise and recommendation of Boone’s doctors was reportedly ignored by WVWC, despite their emphasis on “trusting healthcare providers.”

Following, Boone received an email from Greg Strader in the Office of Student Conduct, explaining that he had received a notice of conduct violation that he would like to discuss with her. He added that the meeting would require masks for all parties. Boone requested a virtual meeting or an outdoor meeting, as she was medically exempt from wearing a facial covering. Both requests were reportedly denied by Strader. Shortly after, she received an email for a “Notice of Hearing” in which Boone would have to meet with a Board of Directors. The same process unfolded again, as they insisted on her wearing a mask to the meeting. Again, Boone requested a virtual meeting or an outdoor meeting, but her requests were once more denied. The college allegedly chose to hold the meetings without Boone present.

Despite her doctor-approved medical exemption and being COVID tested twice per week to play soccer, the college reportedly denied all of Boone’s requests and appeals, giving her 48 hours to pack her things, say goodbye to her friends, and leave campus. According to Boone, the college also refused to refund her tuition money, as well as the money she paid to stay in her dorm. WVWC allegedly refused to allow Boone to alternatively continue her education online, despite the fact that all classes were provided online less than a year ago, she noted. Boone said she was told that she was “unfit to be on campus” and could not “academically continue at the school.”

Boone explained, “I have never been a discipline problem, my entire life. My parents and I chose WVWC as a college-home that we thought would be a welcoming and Godly place for me to thrive with my teammates, and to learn and grow in God and education all at once. I am not the problem. I have done my very best to follow what I have been told. Meanwhile, there are staff and students all over campus with no masks on at all, masks below their chin/nose, etc. I have a well documented medical condition which prevents me from wearing a facial covering. I carry that documentation with me at all times.”

When The Record Delta reached out to WVWC about this matter, the college replied, “Thank you for your inquiry. West Virginia Wesleyan College will not comment on student matters protected by federal law.”

One week after Boone was removed from campus, WVWC reportedly lifted their mask mandate in classrooms, allowing students to be unmasked during classes. Boone said she was never contacted or compensated following the revised mask requirement.

Boone said that she and her family are hopeful that now that the mask mandate has been lifted in WVWC classrooms, she will be given the equal opportunity to return to campus as a student athlete. If Boone is not permitted to return to campus, she told The Record Delta she will be seeking a refund of her tuition, room and board costs.


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