LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – The big debate now is whether schools should make the wearing of masks mandatory. Earlier Monday evening, the Lowellville School Board heard from the superintendent and parents about what they think.

“We’re very frustrated that this decision has been put on our shoulders,” said Superintendent Dr. Eugene Thomas.

Thanks to a recent state law, schools are required to make their own decisions regarding COVID-19 safety protocols.

Thomas and the Lowellville School Board are trying to make the best decision for their students.

“Number one, keep everyone as safe as possible, and number two, to make sure that we have the best modality of learning, which happens to be in-person learning,” Thomas said.

Many in the public are still wary of the school’s decision to start last year with full remote learning.

“What we have here today is that we have elected officials up there, and I don’t see that they’re making the decision. I feel that the decision has already been made,” one parent said.

Thomas confirms his decision will be final.

“I don’t anticipate this being voted on by the board. The transition plan that we put into place last year gave the authority to the superintendent to make changes to that plan,” Thomas said.

While many on the school board agree with the superintendent’s goals, they don’t agree with requiring mask use right away.

“If we need to pedal on the gas and put masks on, then we’ll do it. We need the ability to be agile, we need the ability to pivot to the virus as it changes, and that may be day one, that may be day two, that may be never,” said Brian Wharry, school board member.

Many districts in Mahoning County are waiting until the last moment to decide on their own COVID safety rules.

Thomas is going to wait until one last meeting with other superintendents later this week before finalizing any policies.

“Call me by Friday, I’ll have the answer by Wednesday,” Thomas said.

The first day for students in Lowellville for grades four through 12 is next Monday.