USD 383 to require masks for first five weeks of classes

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USD 383 school board members: Clockwise from left: Curt Herrman, Kristin Brighton, Darell Edie, Katrina Lewison, Jurdene Coleman, Karla Hagemeister and Brandy Santos. (USD 383 courtesy photo)

The Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 school board voted 6-1 to adopt the pandemic response plan, which includes a mask mandate for the first month of classes.

The board held a special meeting Wednesday night to adopt the plan before the start of classes. Board Member Brandy Santos was the lone vote against adopting the plan.

While she did cite the recommendation by medical professionals last week, Santos ultimately decided it should be up to the parents.

      Brandi Santos

Santos says a public health crisis does not supercede anyone’s rights and suggested only recommending masks.

Board Member Curt Herrman says while he agrees with parents’ choices at home, the student’s health becomes the district’s responsibility when they enter school.

      Curt Herrman

Board Member Darell Edie voted in favor of the plan, but says to him, masks are a false sense of security.

      Darell Edie

Edie ultimately voted for the plan since the mask mandate is affect for only one month.

Board Member Kristin Brighton, attending the meeting via phone call, says she was in favor because the medical advisory board gave her no reason not to respect their opinion.

      Kristin Brighton

Brighton says the district needs to keep the schools open, with students in them and avoid any shutdowns due to quarantines.

Board Member Karla Hagemeister says without masks, the number of quarantines can be high since those under 12 cannot get vaccinated.

      Karla Hagemeister

Hagemeister says there will also be additional students this year, returning from remote learning for the 2020 school year.

Board President Jurdene Coleman says she was confident back in June that the school year would start without masks. The report from medical professionals throughout July changed her mind.

      Jurdene Coleman

Coleman says as a person who represents the community, one child’s chronic condition from contracting COVID is enough to worry about. She questioned what the threshold would be if she didn’t.

Board Member Katrina Lewison, calling into the meeting, says she doesn’t see a school year starting without masks until those under 12 can get vaccinated.

      Katrina Lewison

The mandate is set to last until at least Sep 24. The board will review the data before that date and decide whether or not an extension is needed

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County government and school board reporter. 2016 Kansas State University graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications. Kansas born and raised.

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