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Williamsburg ends meeting without mask vote

Board adjourns after residents storm out

WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg Community School Board’s special meeting Thursday ended abruptly after impatient residents stormed out.

The district’s current exemption form, which requires parents to obtain a doctor’s note within 10 days, will continue to be used despite the board not taking action on the matter, two board members said after the meeting.

The audience was anticipating a vote on the district’s mask exemption form, which didn’t have the chance to take place, as Board President Barry England adjourned the meeting once people began filing out.

“You should be ashamed!” one woman yelled as she exited the Williamsburg Community High gymnasium. Another chimed in, “very ashamed!”

During public comment, residents, all against the mask mandate, aired their grievances with Gov. Tom Wolf’s order, imploring the board to take action to allow parents to opt out of the requirement.

Adam Hileman said the mandate signified “straight-up communism on the horizon.”

“We’ve got to make a stand,” Hileman said. “We can’t allow this crap to continue. Step up and do what’s right for our children. Please vote to accept the parental exemption.”

Dave Ross said masks are changing his children for the worse.

“As parents, we need to fight for our kids,” Ross said. “Help us stand up for our kids. We need to take these masks off. We are making this worse by wearing these masks. Let it be a choice.”

Shane Shawuer likened masks to “torture.”

“All we want is freedom of choice,” Shawuer said. “This country was built on freedom. I don’t want to see (students) stuck in a mask. The mask is proven not to work. That’s common sense and everyone knows that. I don’t want my kids to have to walk around in a mask.”

England addressed the audience, reading a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which outlined the consequences should districts fail to comply with Wolf’s mandate.

Residents became angry, many asking why other districts in the area were able to allow exemptions.

On the subject of district liability, one resident shouted out, “Do you think anyone in this district can afford to sue you?”

After the board heard residents’ questions, it decided to move on and vote to approve the resignation of Elementary Library Teacher Carole Swope. Fed up residents left as the board unanimously approved that resignation, then the meeting was adjourned.

After the meeting, Superintendent Lisa Murgas said she understands the residents’ frustration, but that her district must comply with the mandate.

“We know that they’re upset,” Murgas said. “We know that the parents want to be able to have that choice, but unfortunately we have to comply with the order that’s been handed down to us. Until something changes in the legislation, there’s not a lot we’re going to be able to do. We’ll just hope that at some point there’s a resolution to all of this.”

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