North Penn School Board approves Revised Health and Safety Plan

North+Penn+School+Board+meets+at+North+Penn+High+school+to+vote+on+the+Revised+Health+and+Safety+Plan

Julia Nardone

North Penn School Board meets at North Penn High school to vote on the Revised Health and Safety Plan

In a very community-driven action meeting, the North Penn School Board approved the revised Health and Safety Plan which, at this current point and time regarding the amount of Covid cases per day, states that students in both the elementary and secondary levels will be required to wear masks at the beginning of the school year.

This decision was voted upon after more than two hours of public comment. The audience was made up of over 50 parents, students and community members who were voicing concerns about whether to mask or not mask students for this fall.

Many parents in the audience were upset that the school board was considering mandating masks for unvaccinated children.

“Leave the medical decisions to health experts,” parent Katie Hersh said, claiming that masks are giving her children learning impediments as a result of not being able to read their teacher’s mouths.

Community member Maurice Curtis claimed that, “People aren’t really dying from this kind of stuff,” even though hundreds of thousands have died over the course of the past year.

Particularly irate parent Gary Lapreziosa said that “quarantining [healthy people] is simply house arrest,” and “deliberately restricting a childs’ breathing is child abuse.”

“We already know what Covid can do to the kids, it can make them very sick and that is horrible, but it is not killing them.”

— North Penn parent Crystal Sackas

Parent Crystal Sackas said, “We already know what Covid can do to the kids, it can make them very sick and that is horrible, but it is not killing them.”

On the other side of the argument, many newcomers stepped up to the podium to voice their support for masks in school.

“If cases go up, restrictions follow,” Eric Knoblauch stated. “If cases rise and remote learning is required, many of us here are going to wish that we did more.”

“If people don’t want their kids to wear a mask, they can go to another school. No one should harass [the board] for the decision that is being forced upon [them].”

— North Penn parent Jonathan Neal

“If people don’t want their kids to wear a mask, they can go to another school,” Jonathan Neal said to the board. “No one should harass [the board] for the decision that is being forced upon [them].”

“Those parents who come up here and use [IEP’s and speech impediments] as the ultimate weapon, you know what? I would rather have [my daughter] alive,” parent Kumbi Rudnik expressed. “If you’re talking about fear, fear is instinct. Fight or flight, we’re choosing to fight with the masks.”

Multiple North Penn students spoke to the Board as well giving another perspective to the discussion.

“Do not listen to the words of liars,” rising Senior Eric Wang said. “Masks work. They are not causing significant issues to student learning and they are necessary to keep our schools and our communities safe. You may speak louder tonight but truth speaks louder than lies.

“Do not listen to the words of liars. Masks work. You may speak louder tonight but truth speaks louder than lies.”

— Rising Senior Eric Wang

“A piece of material does not silence you,” rising senior Nadia Sharifi said. “If students are required to wear masks, at least we know we did everything we could while also getting our kids in school.”

After all allotted time for public comment was used, the Board then continued with the revised Health and Safety Plan approval. The Board members clarified any possible concerns viewers might have had before voting.

Much of the future masking requirements is based on the Masking expectations chart in the Health and Safety Plan, shown below:

“As of Wednesday of this week, we are at 61 cases per 100,000 and that would put us into the substantial category. We are presently in substantial and if we’re in substantial again next week, we would move over to that column then, and the secondary masks would be required,” Dietrich said, essentially saying that is the community is still in the substantial range next week, secondary students would have to wear masks along with elementary students.

“Masks are mandated for all students on public buses, and that is a federal mandate, one where we do not have a choice,” Board member Juliane Ramic added.

“In the Health and Safety plan, it does call for North Penn to engage in an assurance testing program and it would be required, however, if there is a staff member who is fully vaccinated, they would not be required to participate in that,” Superintendent Dr. Curt Dietrich said.

Lastly, for lunches, students must wear masks to the cafeteria during times where masking is required, and will wear them unless they are eating. 

The next school board meeting is set to take place September 8 at 7 pm.