Debate continues as Millcreek School Board considers easing mask mandate for most on March 1 –

The Millcreek Township School Board continues to ignore parental rights by requiring masks in schools, parents told school directors as they considered ending the mask requirement Tuesday.
School directors met in special study session to consider making masks optional for most students and staff beginning March 1 at the recommendation of Superintendent Ian Roberts and the district pandemic team.
Directors will vote on that and other proposed changes to the district health and safety plan on Monday evening.
MTSD considers making masks optional: School directors will decide Monday
Ending the mandate is “too little, too late,” parent Kellie Gilmore told school directors Tuesday.
“The harm it’s caused to my children is something that can’t be fixed by just reversing the current policies that are in place,” Gilmore said.
The School Board has been teaching tyranny by requiring masks in schools, said McDowell student Eric Page.
“You’re forcing kids against their will, against the will of their parents, to mask,” Page said. “It should not be at 2% of the student population that we have to go back to masks. No. We should get rid of masking completely,” Page said.
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The district recommendation is that masks be optional for K-12 students and staff in schools where positive cases of COVID-19 are below 2% of the student population. Masks would be required in buildings where the incidence is above 2%, and also would be required for district preschool students ages 2-5.
The district plans to inform parents each Friday afternoon about where masks will and will not be required the following week based on the most recent local COVID data, Roberts said.
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The opinions and rights of parents who oppose masking continue to be ignored, said parent Keith Canfield, who referred to a district survey in which 46% of parents said they should decide if their children wear masks at school. Fifty-four percent of parents said individual parents should not decide the issue.
“That means that 46% of parents want parent choice,” Canfield said. “There’s no equity there. There’s no inclusion of those 46% that want parent choice. Just a little under 50% of parents, and you’re not listening to them.”
A Millcreek physician specializing in infectious diseases who has worked with the school district pandemic team cautioned that the rate of COVID-19 spread remains high in Erie County.
“We’re still at high spread (of COVID-19) though the numbers have significantly improved. We’re definitely going in the right direction, but there are still people dying,” said G. Jonathan Lewis, D.O.
Also a concern, Lewis said, is that vaccination rates among students statewide are low.
Most parents addressing the School Board on Tuesday opposed school mask mandates, but several asked school directors to require masks until COVID-19 cases decline farther.
“I know that a mask-free period is coming. And I know a mask-optional period is coming, and I don’t dispute that it should. I think that we are beginning to get to a point where we can consider that, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet,” said Sandra Sawwan, who participated in Tuesday’s meeting remotely.
The district will consider public comments and concerns as well as public health guidelines before making final recommendations on masking and other health and safety changes on Monday, Roberts said.
“We’re moving forward,” board President Gary Winschel said. “We know for some it will be too late, for others it will be too early. For some, it will never be good enough. As the eternal optimist, I always see the glass half full. And I hope for those who don’t, I’m optimistic and hopeful that for those individuals, they feel they have a little more water in the glass than they did a few weeks or a month ago.”
Contact Valerie Myers at Follow her on Twitter @ETNmyers.


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