Parents on both sides of the mask question speak out

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(Posted Sept. 14, 2021)

By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer

Parents who want Jefferson Local Schools to stay the course with the mask optional policy, as well as parents who want the district to mandate masks, were out in force at the Sept. 13 school board meeting.

“Our kids should be wearing masks at Norwood,” said Rebecca Headington, a parent and elementary school educator who said COVID-19 continue to rise, yet the community continues to oppose masks.

“No one wants to wear a mask, but it is what we should do for each other. Masks protect the vulnerable, and that is our children. Please listen to the experts,” she said.

Parent Lindsey Ruthers said she was disappointed with the board and its current policy. She lauded the mask and social distancing policy in place in the previous school year. She reported she never received a letter during that time indicating an exposure to the virus.

“This year is a total disaster,” continued Ruthers, who said she had received three exposure letters within the past week. “You have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our kids.”

Like Ruthers, Janice Green cited the success of the health policies of the previous school year. She said she is worried about the possibility of her daughter contracting COVID-19 and dying from it because of a pre-existing medical condition.

“Children are going to school in an unsafe medical environment,” Green said. “We need to think not just about the healthy students but also about those who are not as healthy.”

Speaking in support of the current policy, Jeremy Wertz, a parent of four, said he was “tired of the fear mongering and the lies.” He said he felt he had to worry more about his children harming themselves with inappropriate food choices than COVID-19.

Liz Kuebler thanked Superintendent William Mullett for “being a maverick and leading with a commonsense approach.” She pointed out that Jefferson Local is not the only school without a mask mandate and must continue the current optional policy.

“Parents are tired of coronamania,” added Sarah Day.

Board member David Harper told the crowd gathered in the high school/middle school auditeria—the vast majority of whom were not wearing masks—he appreciated all of the opinions presented to the board.

He said the board and administrators have spent many hours reading and reviewing information. Any decisions made, he said, are the result of a team effort and not selfish in any way.

“Our decision is going to be based on the unity of this board,” Harper said. “I encourage our board to continue to work together.”

Board member Whitney Duemmel added that the board is definitely listening to the public.

“Five years from now, we’ll be able to look back and see the right answer,” Duemmel said. “We’ll keep reviewing the information. It’s just to be fluid with the situation and be flexible.”

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