POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Poland Schools made a difficult decision Monday night on whether or not their students will wear masks for the start of the school year.

With just three days before the start of school, the Board of Education needed to make a decision on masks in the classroom.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, many were pushing the board to make the choice to wear a mask optional for their kids.

“For our kids to be in the least restrictive environment possible and a very nurturing environment in that they can grow both emotionally and also continue to develop as students as the school year continues,” said Dennis Schiraldi, a parent.

The parents believe their request for parental choice is reasonable.

“We need some definitive answers, and we don’t feel like we are asking for something completely preposterous,” said Evangela Hazimihalis, another parent at the meeting.

Ultimately, the board followed recommendations from the CDC and the County Board of Health and voted three to two in favor of a mask mandate.

“We listened to every single person tonight. We didn’t have to. The board listened to every single person and to people who didn’t sign up. I feel bad for the people that didn’t get what they wanted tonight,” said Superintendent Craig Hockenberry.

The decision comes with a few wrinkles.

The mask mandate is only for kindergarten through sixth grade and only for 20 days. For students in grades seventh through twelfth, masks will be optional.

“The amendment was made because K to six has no option to vaccinate; therefore, they wanted to protect those kids,” Hockenberry said.

Hockenberry also addressed concerns about the lack of mask-use at the recent football game.

“Tonight was based on classroom — K through 12 classroom indoors. The football game and football games across the entire nation is completely separate,” he said.

The decision of whether or not to extend the mandate further or to apply it for more or fewer students will be decided at the next regular meeting in September.