By KATHRYN ROSS
WELLSVILLE — An anti-mask resident argued before the Wellsville Board of Education last week that the efficiency of most COVID-19 face masks is like dropping a pebble through a Hula Hoop.
David Anderson was among seven men, women and students who attended the board meeting and spoke their concerns about masking.
The board listened as Anderson said masking is not healthy for the social development of children and prohibits them from effectively communicating with others, perhaps causing lasting developmental harm.
Another man, Bill Bends, compared a child dying from COVID-19 as likely as an asteroid destroying Earth. Another resident expressed her concern about requiring a medical instrument be placed on her child’s face.
All asked the board to reconsider the state’s recent mask mandate and fight for their children’s rights.
School Superintendent David Foster said the board understands their concerns and assured the residents that, as a board, members are doing what they can to resolve the issue.
But he explained that while the board and staff had prepared a plan dealing with when students had to wear masks in school, over the weekend that all changed when the state mandated that all students and staff wear masks while in public school buildings.
“I hear what you are saying, and I wish I could do something different,” Foster said. “But I have to do what I have to do. We’re following the guidelines of the (federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the American Academy of Pediatrics and as soon as it is safe to do so and the requirements change, we will do something about it.
“What we heard tonight is being repeated at board of education meetings across the state tonight,” he added.
Queried after the meeting Foster said that as he walked through the halls on the first day of school, he didn’t see any students having problems with wearing masks.
“This is how they left school at the end of the last school year, and this is how they’re coming back to school. They’re handling it very well,” he reasoned.
He went on to say that they are encouraging teachers to take their classes outdoors as much as possible to give students a break from wearing masks.
The superintendent said all students and staff are mandated to wear masks while inside the school building. The same mandate pertains to sports. Indoors masks are required, outdoors it is up to individuals. As for spectators, the same rules apply as last year, but the school will be streaming more sports events allowing for spectators to view from home.
Later in the meeting, the board approved a statement indicating that the district is “committed to ensuring a safe environment for students, staff, faculty, administrators, and community members” while also “committed to providing in-person instruction to all of their students five days a week.”
Recognizing the impact COVID-19 continues to have on the public health, the board directed Foster “to continue to engage the Allegany County Department of Health in developing protocols” and to continue to consult “local, regional, state, and national resources to monitor and adjust protocols as necessary to ensure the safety of students, staff, faculty, administrators, and community members while preserving its in-person instructional model.”
In addition to other staff appointments the board welcomed three new teachers to the district, Lyndsey Allen Dahill, Stephanie DeRue and Dakota Dickerson.
Dahill, whose professional New York certification is in childhood dducation (grades 1-6) was conditionally appointed in the childhood education tenure area for fourth grade. Dahill has previously taught at Immaculate Conception School in Wellsville for nine years and at Bolivar-Richburg Central School District for one year.
Speaking to the board, she said, “I’m a 1997 graduate of Wellsville High School and I am happy to be back.”
The board also approved the appointment of DeRue as a special education teacher. Her certification is in literacy, students with disabilities and childhood education. She has six years of experience in the field.
Currently living in Rochester and commuting, she said she is looking forward to purchasing a house and will soon be moving into the district.
Approval was also given to the appointment of Dickerson as a special education teacher.