Posted Date: 11/30/2021
Union’s Board of Education, in a spirited yet civil discussion, voted 3-2 Tuesday against suspending the mask mandate that is currently in place at the district with an opt-out provision. As a result, masks will remain in place for now, until the Board revisits the issue again in January 2022.
“As a school board, we can’t talk about things until we are all in the room together,” said Union Board Stacey Roemerman. “This was a chance for us to discuss our Covid numbers at school and our numbers in the greater community. We voted to keep the mask mandate in place ultimately because we are in a great place [with low Covid numbers], and we want to continue to be there going into the holidays. We will reevaluate the issue again in January.”
In September, the Board had enacted a measure requiring masks for students, staff and visitors, with exemptions for medical, religious, or strongly held personal reasons while indoors on district property.
The opt-out provision will remain in place. Currently, only 6 percent of students – about 933 – have elected to opt out of wearing masks. About 12 percent of employees have opted out. “Certainly, our staff and students have done what we asked them to do,” said Hartzler.
Dr. Hartzler said he felt he had a duty to reconsider the mask mandate, as he had never intended for it to be permanent. “In September, when I asked for a special board meeting to consider a mask mandate, we were in a spot where we needed to act quickly or we would need to shift to remote or distance learning, which would have been two weeks that kids weren’t in school. It would have been a huge inconvenience to parents and not the best thing for students. I promised our parents that we would monitor our numbers and make adjustments based on our data, which we did tonight. Our Board considered the issue, and we stand fully behind the decision they have made to keep masks in place. We will take this issue up again in January.”