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To mask or not to mask, that is the question

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SCALES MOUND–The Monday, July 19 Scales Mound School Board meeting, during which the return to school plan and masks were topics of conversation, was Dr. Marybeth DeLaMar’s first as superintendent.

DeLaMar explained that she and other superintendents in the area are meeting weekly to discuss the latest updates from the Centers for Disease Controls (CDC) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) in regards to COVID protocols for the upcoming school year.

“Updates are pretty much coming out every week,” said DeLaMar. “The CDC is talking about recommendations for masks to be worn indoors for anyone that is not fully vaccinated.”

DeLaMar said IDPH has notified schools that the pandemic is not through and referenced a summer camp outbreak in Illinois.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics also jumped in to share their information about their concerns and are pretty much following what CDC and IDPH are saying,” said DeLaMar. “They were also talking about a layered protection: vaccination, masking and hygiene.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that an early vaccine authorization for children under 12 may be out this winter. DeLaMar said schools could utilize iCare to readily access information about individuals who are vaccinated and those who are not.

Board member Staci Duerr shared information from the Jo Daviess County Health Department about updated numbers on the vaccine. Duerr noted the regional seven-day rolling average was 2.3 percent and the county’s average was at 0 percent.

“No one in Jo Daviess County currently has COVID,” said Duerr.

Duerr said she has heard from residents who are concerned about students wearing masks for another year.

“They feel that the kids have difficulty concentrating and really want us to take a look at that and consider all aspects of it,” said Duerr. “We have to not think just state-wise, but also locally.”

DeLaMar noted that was the reason conversations were being held among the local districts.

Board member Ron Babcock noted that the Illinois School Board Association also sent information and noted decisions should be made locally.

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“I do like the concept of having our students do the hygiene things, not just about COVID, but when we start getting to flu and cold season,” said Babcock. “We also have to think about what happens if it shows up in one kid and others are vaccinated. Do they stay in school, but others don’t?”

Area resident Ashley Anderson was opposed to the mask mandate.

“What that tells me is by one’s religious choice of not being vaccinated, that person would be segregated and persecuted,” said Anderson. “To enforce the mask mandate, school districts have to ignore the constitution and HIPAA law. Under the constitution, we citizens possess the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That means we can move freely without persecution due to others’ beliefs.”

The board took no action on it’s back to school plan, but anticipates a special meeting prior to the first day of school to discuss the plan further.

 

Other business

The board also:

•approved bids from Sysco Foods, Dean Foods, FS and Sinclair.

•increased the substitute teacher daily rate to $100.

•hired Amanda Vondran and Kelly Wills as paraeducators and Pachia Tenpas-Rice as sophomore class advisor.

•approved the intent of not returning for Angie Winter due to disability.

•approved the resignation of Nicole Busch, varsity volleyball coach and the reassignment of Keri Werner to that position.

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