When picture day came around at Mason Peoples' elementary school in Las Vegas, the first grader was ready -- he'd picked out his favorite shirt, which happened to match his mask, and practiced his best smile that morning for his mom.
"My son actually lost four teeth within the last few weeks to a month, so he was so proud of his smile," his mom Nicole Peoples told CNN.
She said she was a little shocked when the 6-year-old told her he'd kept his mask on for his picture because she'd told him that he should only take it off at school to eat.
"We had a conversation at the beginning of school about the importance of safety and how germs can be spread if he didn't have his mask on, so he makes sure to have it on at all times," Peoples said.
Masks are required at Mason's school, where his older brother is in third grade. Their younger brother is in pre-K, his mom said.
The photographer said it would be okay for him to take his mask off to take the photo, but he politely declined.
"I said 'No thank you, my mom told me I can't,'" Mason told CNN.
Mason is a rule follower, his mom said, and even makes his bed and cleans his room like he's supposed to.
"He's very proud (and) he loves to show me how he's followed the rules so that's why he was so excited to come home and tell me about that picture story," Peoples said.
She's proud of him too, and shared the story on Facebook, where it's been circulated widely.
Lots of people wanted to do something nice for Mason or buy him a treat, so she set up a GoFundMe page with a $7 goal. It has raised more than $13,000, which his mom said will go in his college fund.
Peoples said wearing masks and not getting to socialize with friends is hard on the kids, but her sons understand why it's important.
She said her grandfather, who raised her and was more like her dad, died in January from Covid-19.
"He was a very significant part of our life our daily life, so Mason was impacted, they've seen it firsthand," Peoples said. "So that experience really makes Mason want to wear his mask and know that it's protecting not only him but other people, his elders and other people around him."
When Peoples saw the photo, she said she knew she'd have to buy it.
Even with the mask, she could see he was making his determined face and "you can see that twinkle in his eyes, for sure."
"We have a family portrait -- a wall where we put all our family portraits -- so that's definitely going right in the center," she said.
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'No thank you. My mom told me I can't': Boy refuses to take off COVID-19 mask for school picture
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