BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – At the start of Tuesday night’s Boardman School Board meeting, the people who showed up were told that no action would be taken on the district’s current policy of requiring everyone to wear masks inside during the school day.
Still, the vast majority of the 20 or so people who spoke asked the board and superintendent to change their minds and make mask wearing optional.
Masks or no masks in the Boardman Schools — the contrast between officials of the Boardman Schools and the crowd was noticeable.
School Board members and those around them all masked, while 95% of the 100 people in attendance were not.
The first speaker, Dwight McMurray, set the tone. Most of this group wanted the wearing of masks to be optional.
“Why are they being forced to wear G.I. Joe, Spider-Man, Ninja Turtle, Spider-Man and princess masks made by Martha on Facebook when this escaped a level four biohazard?” McMurray said.
One statistic quoted several times was that, according to the CDC, 313 children ages five to 18 died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
“Similar numbers as the flu in 2019. Out of that number of 313 children, none, zero were classified as healthy school children,” said Brandon Berg, a Boardman parent.
“But the whole thing is, I just keep going back to 99.8% of the people are surviving. That is an amazing number, and we shouldn’t be scared of it because it’s pretty much comparable to the flu,” said Joel McKendry, another parent.
Retired Boardman High Principal Cynthia Fernback, who was in charge of last year’s COVID year, was one of the few supporting masks.
“It is not ideal to wear a mask, but it is what is required of us right now if we want to keep our kids in school in person,” Fernback said.
If Boardman students are masked and vaccinated, they will not be quarantined. That, says Fernback, should be a goal.
“One after the other, students would be told that they had to quarantine. Many of them broke down and cried right there in the office,” Fernback said.
After she and others supporting mask wearing spoke, the applause was scattered.
For those supporting a mask optional policy, the applause was loud. Sarah Amaismeier best summed up the opinion of the crowd.
“I respect teachers who choose the mask and parents who choose the mask. What I am asking here tonight is my right as a parent to choose not to mask my child,” she said.
School Board President Vickie Davis thanked the crowd for their respectful comments, saying the board had a lot to digest.