EATON — The Eaton Community School District Board of Education confirmed during their Monday, Aug. 9 meeting as well as in a recent letter to students, staff and parents that masks will be optional for the upcoming school year.
In a letter from superintendent Jeff Parker dated Aug. 5, Eaton Community School District strongly encourages staff and students to consider getting vaccinated, but says it will not be mandated.
Additionally, while the district encourages the wearing of face masks, the decision to wear a mask is optional at this point. Masks will be required by staff and students, however, when riding on district-owned buses or vans.
“Eaton Community Schools has done its’ due diligence researching and consulting with school attorney’s in this area and the school district does not have an option regarding masking on school provided transportation,” the letter reads. “The school district faces the possibility of significant penalties if the federal regulations are not followed.”
During the board’s meeting, parents spoke up both for and against mask mandates for the district. Justin Donovan, whose daughter is entering the fifth grade at Bruce Elementary, spoke against any mask mandates.
“She’s come to me repeatedly, told me how much she hates coming to school anymore and is dreading returning to school this coming school year,” he said. “Mainly its the fear of having to potentially wear masks again.”
Donovan said he knows his daughter is not alone when she says that wearing the mask makes it hard to breathe and to concentrate on schoolwork.
Another parent, Abby Helsinger, asked who the experts are that the school board is listening to for guidance.
“Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend masking for everyone, regardless of vaccination,” she said. “The American Medical Association, the president, has stated that he agrees with the CDC’s recommendation, and the American Association of Pediatrics has recommended masking for everyone in K-12, schools – teachers, students, visitors, regardless of vaccination status. So I guess my question is, who are the health experts that we’re listening to?”
She added the school board is passing the buck while waiting for a potential mask mandate to come down from the state.
“I think it’s in the best interest of our children to wear masks,” she said. “My children wore them all during school when they were in person. They had no problems, no complaints.”
In other business
Also during his report, Parker confirmed that the controversial “critical race theory” will not be taught in Eaton schools.
“I know in my conversations and discussions with the board members, when they’ve been approached about that, I can tell you that is not going to happen at Eaton Community Schools,” he said. “Critical race theory is not going to be taught. It’s not a part of the state standards. I firmly believe it will not become a part of the state standards.”
The board voted to terminate the current contract with athletic director Travis Miller and execute a new contract, retroactive to July 1 and running through June 30, 2024.
Donations were approved from Carl and Ellen Mitchell (books for the middle school library) and from the Vernon Lantis Trust ($2,963.61 to be used for scholarships).
The board also entered into executive session to discuss employment of public employees and to discuss details relating to the security arrangements and emergency response protocols of the board.
The board’s next meeting will be Monday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. at Hollingsworth East Elementary.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles