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Tioga Public School board votes to make masks a recommendation, violating state health officer’s order

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Tioga Public Schools held a special school board meeting Monday to choose not to require masks at school. That’s a direct violation of the state health officer’s executive order.

We spoke to the superintendent, students and a teacher about their thoughts about the decision.

“The governor is treating all of us like we’re stupid. COVID is real. The danger is real but there are things you can do to mitigate the spread,” said Mark Schmidt, president of Tioga School Board.

Schmidt says around 50 parents, teachers and students attended the meeting. Around 40 people shared stories on why they think masks shouldn’t be required.

“There was one story of a kid out on the playground with six masks on his head taking a picture. Just the foolishness but mainly concern about our children,” Schmidt said.

A school board member who has COVID and is isolating at home and is a physician’s assistant at Tioga Community Hospital made the motion to make masks a recommendation and not a requirement.

The school board voted and they say it’s up to students and teachers if they want to wear one.

“Really want to have our kids in school and we’re afraid if they wouldn’t wear a mask then we would be sending them home and they would be distance learning. The governor all along said that they want kids in school, learning person-to-person,” said Carolyn Eide, superintendent of Tioga Public Schools.

Eide says mitigation like social distancing and regular cleaning are heavily stressed in the school.

“Our data is showing that we have about four percent of our kids who have had COVID. Not very many adults having it. And, none of our kids, as far as we know, who were close contacts who were quarantined, got covid from those close contacts at school,” Eide said.

One teacher we spoke to says he wears a mask, but it’s optional for his students. He says he’s able to space out the desks and students which makes it easier.

“I have asthma and underlying condition parents have diabetes, so I’m just trying to protect myself my family and just trying to be cautious because every year, I always get sick with something and I don’t want to do that this year. I’m tired of it,” said Ryan Albrecht, social studies teacher.

We also asked a few students their opinions.

“I am all for the school board’s decision to not enforce it at this point. I don’t think that we should have to wear masks it should be our choice,” said Karter Longie, senior.

“If I don’t have to, I would prefer not wearing a mask,” said Karli Longie, sixth grader.

“I prefer not to wear mine but I respect it if people have it on their stores and stuff,” said Kiana Longie, sophomore.

We asked Schmidt if he is worried about being reprimanded by the governor.

“I’m not. I’m expecting to, but no. I’m not worried about it,” Schmidt said.

Local law enforcement issued a statement saying they will not enforce the mask mandate.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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