Mask mandates are a controversial topic in schools across the country, and became a source of debate in front of the School Board in the Waterford Graded School District in the past week. (file photo)

WGSD School Board hears from parents on recent mask mandate

 

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

Faced with a rising number of positive COVID-19 cases weeks into the new school year, the Waterford Graded School District reversed course midway through September and reinstated a mask requirement across all grade levels.

At the district’s most recent regular School Board meeting, held Sept. 27, parents sounded off on the decision, and the steps taken to render it.

Superintendent Ed Brzinski informed parents Sept. 17 WGSD was going to require masks, effective Sept. 20, through at least the end of the end of the month.

The board had previously given Brzinski the authority to make calls regarding COVID-19 mitigations, including the thorny issue of deciding whether or not masks should be required or made optional.

Brzinski, who did not speak to his decision at the recent board meeting, had previously laid out reasons in an announcement sent to parents. According to district figures, the number of positive COVID-19 cases stood at 16 across all grade levels in the first 13 days of instruction.

Tammie Begotka, who was one of more than a dozen parents who spoke to the board at during a public comment portion of the agenda, said she was dismayed the board ceded the responsibility to the superintendent, rather than making the decision directly.

“I implore the School Board to uphold your end of the handbook,” said Begotka, who received rounds of applause – as did many of the other speakers – for offering sharp commentary on the decision.

The more than dozen speakers who weighed in at the meeting were overwhelmingly against the mask mandate. Several of the speakers attempted to poke holes into the assorted theories concerning children and mask wearing for prolonged periods of time.

From her vantage point, Begotka said, she is concerned prolonged masking is taking a toll elsewhere for young learners, particularly for social and emotional queues and speech development.

“When will it end? What’s the cutoff?” Begotka said. “It’s time to move on.”

To read the full story from Monday’s meeting see the Oct. 1 edition of the Waterford Post.