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April 30, 2021 - 4:03pm

Group of Pavilion parents concerned about all-day masking policy

posted by Howard B. Owens in coronavirus, covid-19, news, notify, Pavilion, schools, education.

Wearing masks all day while at school is a drag for kids, and some parents in Pavilion brought their concerns to this week's meeting of the Pavilion Central School District Board of Trustees.

Amanda Holley started an online petition that, at the time of the meeting, had been signed by 183 people (it's now at 200) stating that with Pavilion maintaining a six-feet social distancing rule, all-day masking shouldn't be necessary.

The all-day masking rule is in compliance with recently implemented guidance from the NYS Department of Health. The guidance doesn't draw a distinction from schools maintaining six-feet social distancing and three-feet social distancing.

Superintendent Mary Kate Hoffman said area superintendents all share the same concern, they've discussed it in meetings and have raised the issue with the local health department, but the word back from local health officials is that the state is showing little interest in addressing the issue.

 Hoffman suggested that parents concerned about the issue might do better to contact state leaders.

"I would love to see 183 letters go out to our local senators, our representatives, to share those points of view because you're not alone," Hoffman said. "All of the districts in New York State are feeling the same."

The first speaker, of two, at Tuesday's meeting (whose name wasn't clear on the recording), said on that day her eighth-grader had been required to wear a mask for 10-straight hours, including his time on a bus, except for a lunch break.

"That seems like a long time," she said. "These kids are getting no break."

Holley said she was representing parents who shared a similar concern and questioned why the all-day mask mandate was necessary. She noted that Pavilion has been doing a great job of protecting the kids during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I can't speak for everyone's kids but my kids have been the healthiest -- they haven't been sick, not a sniffle, not a cough," she said.  "I attribute that to Pavilion School. I think the school has done an amazing job. I don't see why we have to fix something that isn't broken."

One trustee, who can't be identified from the recording, sympathized with the parents but said there isn't anything the district can do on its own to change the policy.

"We all wish we could do something," she said. "We have to obey the rules or we face financial penalties or a financial punishment, plus we don't want anybody to get stick. We've been super lucky to keep our school open."

Another trustee noted that the teachers don't like the mask policy, either. It's hard to talk all day in a mask. It's hard to hear students.

Another speaker mentioned that teachers have the discretion to allow mask breaks but many teachers are not providing for mask breaks.

Hoffman said more mask breaks would be encouraged.

"It's pretty easy for us to say for teachers to offer a mask break each period," she said.

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