Brian Roebke photo
Wrightstown Community School District parent Paul Kalscheur thinks the board of education should make a mask optional policy as soon as possible and change it later if necessary, noting parents want the ability to find different schools for their children if Wrightstown requires masks in the fall.
By Brian Roebke
Parents of Wrightstown Com-munity School District students gave their impassioned opinions of the school requiring students to wear masks in school this fall.
For more than an hour, parents, grandparents, and several students gave opinions of masking in schools, with many of them requesting the board of education to make a decision to not require masks in school when classes resume in September. However, the board is not yet ready to make that decision.
The present status is optional mask wearing in summer school.
Board President Tom Eggert said the district is doing everything possible to not require masks this fall but that’s still too far away to know where the country and the area will be in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All indicators have been positive since the introduction of the vaccine in February and numbers have continued to improve to the point where restrictions have been removed in many instances in society. However, with elementary-age children still not getting vaccinated, there is some concern for positive cases there even though the level of sickness seems to be much lower the younger the positively tested person is.
“Let’s just cross our fingers that there’s nothing else that comes up and kind of throws a wrench in it,” he said.
There were more than a dozen speakers at the June board of education meeting held last week at Wrightstown High School because of construction at the normal meeting location, Wrightstown Elementary School.
Paul Kalscheur complimented the board for the quality of the school district but thinks the board should make a mask optional policy as soon as possible and change it later if necessary.
“Everybody here has decisions they have to make based upon the decision you come up with,” he said, noting parents want the ability to find different schools for their children if Wrightstown requires masks in the fall.
Fred Romenesko said if teachers don’t want to teach children who are unmasked, they should find a different job.
“My kids should not be wearing masks, I feel personally,” he said. “As far as the teachers if they feel unsafe at their job, they should quit their jobs. I’m sorry to say that but if I feel unsafe in my job, I would leave my job. That’s the way it goes.”
Jessica Mulder said people have emailed the superintendent and board for months but there had been little or no response. “You just keep saying you must follow the CDC and health experts’ advice but it seems as though you need a reminder it’s only a recommendation,” she said.
She questioned the effectiveness of most masks, both cloth and medical, and questioned if anybody in school was wearing a mask that properly protected them during the school year.
She thought many illnesses were not found in schools this year because many parents stopped sending their children to school when they were sick. She believes there are currently two pandemics in the world and neither of them are COVID-19 — mental health and the deep divide.
“Science, fact, the CDC, we all have access, it just depends on the science you choose to read, the political drive behind your choice, your faith, your immune system, your underlying conditions, lifestyle choices, dietary habits, the list goes on and on,” Mulder said.
Renee Flora Williams, who works as a registered nurse, was also inflicted with COVID-19 in September, and got very sick and is still having a hard time in everyday life.
“What I do for a living is hold the patient’s hand while they die from COVID,” she said. “I do not want a single child to have to put up with what I put up with every day of my life.”
She has two children in school and every sickness that goes around hits her son Bennett.
She gets warnings about how much school he misses. “Before COVID, he was sick all the time,” she said. “This year he’s missed school a couple of times. We were able to keep him quarantined so that he didn’t get it.”
Her daughter did test positive and still is dealing with the after effects, including struggling to sleep.
Bennett can’t get vaccinated and doesn’t know what COVID would do to him if he tests positive.
She believes masks work, noting a co-worker was masked and took care of a high-risk patient for 35 hours while she was contagious and he never tested positive.
“It’s going to be a very difficult if the Wrightstown school district chooses to make masks optional and my children aren’t able to get vaccinated,” Williams said. “I don’t want to have them look for a different school district because I fought long and hard to get my children in this school district.”
Barry Schisel questioned many things about COVID-19 and our government’s handling of the pandemic and added a few new questions.
“Did the high school reinstate all the points that were taken off tests and grades for not complying with the mask policy, even when it slipped off their nose?,” he said. “Why were the academic achievements that are used to get into colleges, apprenticeships, jobs in the workforce, ever changed, making it harder for our children to pursue their dreams after high school over a mask policy?”
He added comments about the teachers union, immunizations, critical race theory, and the UNITY project.
“Our children need to be taught how to think, not what they should think,” he said.
Julie Sigmund believes it’s unlawful for the school district to require unapproved masks to be worn in schools and said she had 250 signatures of people who support mask choice.
An emotional Janet Coenen moved her family and business to Wrightstown two years ago and believes it’s a great community and she wants to continue be a part of it. She said children are 66,667 times more likely to be sold into human trafficking than to die from COVID-19. “I’m willing to take my chances not having a mask on my child,” she said.
Claudia Martin alluded to a study that showed children’s masks to contain pathogens and pneumonia-causing bacteria.
“I wonder how many of our kids who are carrying pathogens,” she said. “We know they wear them all day long, we know what they do with them when they come home, so I think it’s really important we go to masks are optional.”
Lindsey Jonas asked where it was going to end, and mandatory vaccinations are a discussion parents will not even have. “Our kids will be gone,” she said.
Kristi Swanson argued the government is not in charge of her children’s health. “You as elected officials are here to listen to us, the community members,” she said.
Recent WHS graduate Matthew Hansen said liberty is an unalienable right and God gave him that right.
“Don’t act like you’re God,” he said.
Renee Vandenberg asked if anyone thought washing hands and keeping sick kids home helped besides masking and brought up an issue of a transgender young man using the womens restroom at the high school.
“That’s something we are unable to do anything about it,” she said. “That’s something that I’m not okay with and that’s something my daughter’s not okay with.”
She believes God loves everyone, including that young man, but he doesn’t belong in the girls’ bathroom with other girls.
More on this issue in next week’s newspaper.
After the public comment period, Eggert said he understood the comments and didn’t like others dictating things but asked those in the audience to “please trust us.”
He said the situation is fluid and the district is doing what they can to remove the mask mandate but gave no guarantee of an answer at the July meeting.