ALTOONA, Pa (WTAJ) — Tensions were high among board members and parents at the Altoona Area School District Board meeting Wednesday. However, in a 5-4 vote, the board decided to keep the current health and safety guidelines in place. That means masks will remain an option for grades K-12.
This discussion comes about from the range of transmission in Blair County being high. As of Wednesday, the Department of Health reported 21 new cases within the county.
Multiple parents spoke to the board members about their opinions on the masks mandates, and the room was split among the topic. Many of the speakers had personal anecdotes about their experiences with masks and the pandemic.
But at the end of the day, most of the people wanted what was best for the children. Altoona Area School District Superintendent, Dr. Charles Prijatelj says that any enforcing of masks will be hard without a state mandate.
“The reality is without a mandate from the state as brought up by several board members, enforceability becomes an issue,” Prijateli said.
Not all comments from Wednesday’s meeting leaned towards one side of the topic. Some parents recognized the hard job the board had to do and wanted to make sure they were doing it in the children’s best interest.
One speaker described the board as being in “a difficult position.” While another speaker wants the board to come together to decide what “needs to be made in the best interest of the children.”
Like most speakers at the meeting, Dr.Prijatelj says the board is mentally exhausted with the many adjustments.
Dr. Prijatelj says that the board will continue to discuss this topic throughout the school year, depending on how the cases continue to trend. However, board members are dedicated to providing education to children.
“This will be a discussion that at various meetings of the board on a monthly basis as we move through the school year,” Dr. Prijatelj said. The most important the board is very committed to having all kids be in school.”
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