COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – Crestview Local Schools Superintendent Matthew Manley announced that the district will be undergoing a temporary mask mandate starting Wednesday.
It was announced after the Crestview School Board gave the approval in a meeting Tuesday morning, but the rules of procedure were not followed because they needed a roll call vote. So, they held an emergency meeting later on to vote, which was 2-1.
Crestview School Board President Missy Wellman was the only member present to vote against the mandate.
“I think it’s outside of our governing right. I think what we are elected to do by communities in which we are chosen is to protect the financial integrity of the district — the taxpayers’ money,” she said.
Manley says the mask mandate is to keep healthy children in school. The district is required to follow a flow chart set out by the Ohio Department of Health where unmasked children are sent home.
He hopes an ongoing study in Warren County will provide the data so only sick children have to wear a mask in school.
“They’re limiting it only to that county. Masking kids who are quarantined and allowing them to test every other day, which they don’t have the data on that so they won’t expand it. But Warren has similar demographics to our county and we would like the opportunity to do that,” Manley said.
The mandate follows a rise in recent COVID-19 cases and a plea from the school nurse.
“That word ‘help’ — if you can’t see it, it’s above my head, it’s huge. We need help. Challenging does not begin to describe what we’re going through every day here,” said school nurse Janet Leipheimer.
Angry parents also spoke at the meeting on Tuesday, saying masking should be a decision left up to the parents.
“At this point, it’s infringing on the public health and education and I think that sometimes we have to make uncomfortable decisions and that’s what masks really come down to, it’s uncomfortable,” said parent Megan Wagner-Buckley.
The district’s website shows they’ve had 61 COVID-19 infections in the district this school year. There’s an average of five to eight students going into quarantine per positive case.
Monday, one staff member tested positive, which equaled 48 students who were in close contact to be excluded from school.
Just Friday, they had 57 positive COVID-19 cases and 18 hand, foot and mouth disease cases.
The mandate will last until the next school board meeting on Oct. 18. At that time, the school board says they will take a look at the numbers and re-evaluate if the mandate will stay.