North Penn Unmasked: Board approves mask optional CDC guidelines

The+North+Penn+School+Board+meets+virtually+in+their+special+action+meeting+to+vote+on+optional+masking+in+schools+after+receiving+new+guidance+from+the+CDC+last+Friday.

Julia Nardone

The North Penn School Board meets virtually in their special action meeting to vote on optional masking in schools after receiving new guidance from the CDC last Friday.

LANSDALE- After about a year and a half of mask-mandated classrooms, the North Penn School Board has unanimously voted for masks to be optional in all North Penn schools and transportation effective March 1, 2022. This decision was based on the new CDC guidelines put out last Friday.

The CDC’s guidelines were changed based on more factors like hospitalizations and new case numbers decreasing.

Namely the CDC issued new guidance incorporating a number of hospital beds being used and number of hospital admissions and total number of new Covid cases in a particular area. With that Montgomery county now has a designation of Medium.”

— Superintendent Dr. Curt Dietrich

“Adjustments the CDC made now are impacting our Health and Safety plan. Namely, the CDC issued new guidance incorporating the number of hospital beds being used, the number of hospital admissions, and the total number of new covid cases in a particular area. With that, Montgomery County now has a designation of Medium, with that, a revised Health and Safety plan,” Superintendent Dr. Curt Dietrich explained. 

With Montgomery county being in the medium level, masks are optional. However, should the county go back to high the masks will be mandated again per North Penn’s Health and Safety Plan. Immunocompromised students or staff concerned with medical situations will not go unnoticed.

“If any individuals would like use to consider any medical advice they’re getting they can certainly have that submitted to us and our team, well take a look at that, if its an IEP or 504 situation, we’ll see what we can do to accommodate any kind of requests that would stem from that,” Dietrich said.

Updated masking protocols in revised Health and Safety plan. The NPSD is currently in Medium (Julia Nardone)

Dietrich will additionally be meeting with the Montgomery County Office of Public Health tomorrow to discuss the mandate being lifted and to get another perspective on optional masks.     

It is also important that everyone remain respectful of each other’s decisions when regarding wearing or not wearing masks. 

If you want to wear a mask, fine, if you don’t want to wear a mask, [you] shouldn’t be bullied for [your] decision on which way [you] want to go,” Board president Tina Stoll said after the Audience of Citizens concluded.

If you want to wear a mask, fine, if you don’t want to wear a mask, [you] shouldnt be bullied for [your] decision on which way [you] want to go.”

— Board President Tina Stoll

The Audience of Citizens presented many concerns and opinions to the board. Some concerns come from parents and students from the district, a recurring concern being how masks impact students in the classroom and their interactions with other students or staff. Students from the district spoke and presented concerns, young and old, varying from requests that the board makes masks optional, to asking that better guidelines be put in place to enforce the wearing of masks in schools. 

“I don’t feel safe going to school and I don’t want to risk my health and my safety every single day just to get an education,” one North Penn sophomore expressed during public comment, wanting to keep the mask mandate, stating that her concerns were shared by multiple classmates and friends. 

The meeting transitioned to the Superintendent Search Proposal. The board members voted to approve the search proposal to “Approve Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates to assist the District with conducting a search for the position of Superintendent of Schools in accordance with their proposal, the terms of which include a consulting fee of $21,500 and related expenses.” The board voted with five board members in agreement and two against. The five votes in agreement were by Tina Stoll, Elisha Gee, Jonathan Kassa, Timothy MacBain, Cathy Wesley. The two votes against were by Juliane Ramic and Al Roesch.

The scheduled work session meeting on March 8th has been canceled however the next meeting will be an action meeting held on March 17th at North Penn High School at 7 pm.