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EDINBURG — The Edinburg Board of Education held a regular meeting on Wednesday, August 11, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. in the district Media Center.
As with many school board meetings in the last month, parents were pres- ent at the meeting to voice their opinions about the recent mask mandate passed down to all schools in the state from the Governor. Before the pub- lic comments began, Board President Adam Swinger told the speakers they would have five min- utes to voice their con- cerns, but that the Board would not be engaging in back and forth commentary with them. This time was strictly for them to let their concerns be known to the Board.
Casey Kirkpatrick, who spoke at the last meeting for making masks option- al, was present to once again give voice to her concerns. She began by thanking the board for lis- tening to her, and saying that she knows the teachers and administrators in the district have always strove to do what was best for the children. She stated she knew that, frankly, the district’s hands are tied when it came to wear- ing masks.
“I’m not speaking up here to change your minds; us parents already know your decision. It’s the decision we expected when you are being threatened, told that your funding will be withheld, and your school recognition status will be lowered if you do not comply.” She explained. However, she wanted the Board to know that she was not pleased with this forced compl ance.
Kirkpatrick went on the say that the children were being punished by being made to wear masks all day in school. She said it was unfair to make the kids wear masks when they don’t have any voice in the matter. Kirkpatrick did say that she wanted her child to have the chance to go to school and interact with friends as normally as possible. So, despite her own personal feelings on the matter, she would be instructing her child to mask up to go to school.
She wanted reassurance that masks breaks would be given at every opportu- nity, though. She wanted mask breaks at lunch, at P.E. and playground time, and many mask breaks during the year. Kirkpatrick also told the Board that no child should be punished for wearing or not wearing a mask. If a child had their mask off, they should not be threatened with detention to make them put a mask back on.
Another parent spoke up in agreement. He asked the Board to not discipline students are teachers when they had their
masks off. “I know you have to say something, but just say your piece and then walk away. Don’t punish them.” He begged. He also brought up his concerns about the mental health of students suffering from the continued masking and social distancing.
President Swinger thank everyone for being respect- ful and not letting their emotions get the better of them when speaking. In order to be fully transparent, Swinger explained that as Board members, he and the rest of the Board were held account- able for the district. They had to think about things like liability and funding, as well as what would provide the best learning environment for all their students. As such, the Board unanimously voted to approve the return to learn plan as presented, which included the mandatory masks.
Board Member Adam Leedy spoke up to say that the Board and the admin- istrators were going to work as hard as they could to make the most comfortable learning environment possible for the children. He said that Edinburg was lucky in that they had a large school building and small student numbers. The kids would be able to space out and take advantage of social distancing. The Board was also going to work on implementing a mask break plan to help alleviate some of the discomfort.
In other news, Superintendent Ben Theilen told the Board that the roof project was very nearly finished. The money for that project had come from the 50/50 matching grant provided by the state. Theilen said another Maintenance grant that was 50/50 matching had been opened, so he wanted the building and grounds com- mittee to meet to discuss what other projects the district could work on and apply for the grant.
He also asked the Board to approve a transportation agreement with South Fork School District. The agreement would allow the schools to transport their children together to CACC, places for sports, or Cornerstone in Nokomis. The Board passed the agreement. Theilen also had an agreement drawn up with Rochester School District, but the Board tabled that. He explained that agreement was more of a backup plan.
Also approved at the meeting:
– Consent agenda
– Board Policies
– Personnel Report
The next meeting of the
Edinburg Board of Education will be held on Wednesday, September 8 at 6:00 p.m. in the district Media Center.