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Tyrone students to wear masks

TYRONE — The Tyrone Area School Board passed a plan Wednesday evening for the return of school students, which includes a requirement that students and staff wear masks when social distancing cannot be maintained.

The plan, which passed by a 7-2 vote, accounts for increased sanitization and ventilation in the buildings and in buses, reconfiguration of classes to maximize social distancing, monitoring and communication of staff and student health, and the provision on required mask use, which will include exceptions as indicated by the governor’s order, according to the board’s public presentation.

In calling for the vote, board Vice President William Lash said the plan is subject to change based on the changing requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state departments of health and education.

Board member Lori Walk cast the first dissenting vote to the plan. She said she was in agreement with all of the plan’s provisions except that of required masks.

“Parents should have the choice over whether their children wear masks,” she said, via voice call. “We should honor that.”

Board member James Raabe cast the second dissenting vote, saying the plan should start smaller and work toward a fuller reopening.

“It’s easier for the plan to go forward, than to go backward,” he said, suggesting the board wait another week to vote to adopt the plan.

Board member Mollie Bakhsheshe responded to the dissents, reiterating Lash’s earlier comment that the plan’s provisions are subject to change. She said it is important to have a plan now, and make adjustments along the way, so that parents know what to expect this fall.

“These people need to know something,” she said. “They need to hear what we are doing.”

Students in kindergarten through 12th grade are currently set to return on

Aug. 25, according to the district website’s online calendar.

Public comment included questions and differing opinions about the required mask use, as well as concerns about communications around health monitoring. Commenters acknowledged the challenges the board faced in balancing the desires of parents and other stakeholders.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to appoint Andrew Woomer of Tyrone to fill the seat vacated by former board member William Hartsock. Woomer’s term began Tuesday, and ends Dec. 6, 2021.

Mirror Staff Writer Dom Cuzzolina is at 946-7428.

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