During its meeting last Tuesday, the Centennial school board not-so-unanimously approved a number of updates to the district’s health and safety plan.
In a vote of 6-3, the board eliminated targeted masking from the plan. This would have required a classroom, building or the entire district to require masking for up to 10 days if positive COVID-19 cases reached a certain number in a 14-day period. While Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden and several board members, including Patti Crossan, wanted to err on the side of caution, others, such as Mary Alice Brancato, said masking decisions should remain up to the parents at all times.
A motion by Mark Gindhart that would’ve eliminated the requirement for unvaccinated employees to get regularly tested failed in a vote of 5-3, with Jane Schrader Lynch abstaining. Another motion by Michael Lydon that would have given teachers the ability to decide whether or not masks are required in their own classroom failed in a vote of 7-2.
Lynch described this as “complete chaos” and said, “You could have 500 teachers doing 500 different things.”
The plan as a whole passed in a vote of 5-4, with the board slated to discuss and vote on a soon-to-be updated contact tracing/quarantine section during a future meeting. Several board members were not pleased, especially given the fact that the CDC recommends indoor masking at schools.
“Tonight, we discounted the suggestions of our superintendent and all of the folks that live and breathe this everyday. I’m very disappointed,” said Shelley Eilenberg. “We are not the experts. We pay this man [Bedden] to be the expert and to work with the experts and I think we should support him.”
Crossan expressed concern over rising COVID numbers among children. She said, “We took away more precautions. That’s what we did tonight. As a board, it’s not politics. As a board, our job is to protect our students and teachers so they have a safe environment to learn.”
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