BLOSSBURG – For the second time in a week, parents made their unhappiness over the mandatory masking of children known at the Southern Tioga School District board meeting on Sept. 13.
Most walked into the auditorium with masks on, but a few did not. Board president Steven Guillaume announced that if everyone wasn’t wearing a mask, he would cancel the meeting.
District Superintendent Sam Rotella reported that there have been 48 positive cases of COVID since the beginning of school.
“One classroom, first grade, has gone remote, also an eighth grade class at NP-Mansfield that has quite a few positives, over 5%. We also have a 28% absentee rate, so there could be more we don’t know about,” he added.
The district has paused junior high extra curriculars, varsity and JV volleyball and band.
“NP-MHS is getting close to 5% positivity rate in the entire building, but we are trying to make that a 14-day cycle. There have been no new releases from state Department of Health or Department of Education,” Rotella said.
Adam Mahonsky of Blossburg, a 1972 graduate of North Penn High School, demonstrated a device that he built called a Corsi-Rosenthal box, an electronic device that filters the air efficiently and inexpensively, he said, which would do away with the need for masks.
“This I hope will be the star of the evening. Throughout the pandemic we have talked about three things: vaccination, social distancing and masking, but not air filtration,” he said.
The system uses four hospital grade filters and a box fan, moving 2,000 cubic feet of air per minute. with an average classroom size of 6,000 square feet, it would reproduce the classroom air six times per hour. Cost is $75 and 30 minutes to build, and two cents per hour to operate. It is 98% efficient, said Mahonsky.
At least a dozen people addressed the board with dissatisfaction over mandatory masking.
Khrys Knecht brought her son to the meeting and said that he had been ostracized and segregated from the rest of his class because he can’t wear a mask due to trauma from abuse in his previous home.
“This morning an IEP meeting was held via ZOOM, and I was given three options. I can mask my child who suffers from PTSD He can wear a face shield, or option three, he can attend cyber school. If he can’t wear a mask, he would have to attend cyber campus or return to CCA. I don’t accept any of these offers,” Knecht said.
Other parents told the board the constant “policing” by staff of kids who can’t or won’t wear masks is making them not want to go to school because school isn’t fun anymore.
“You are losing students, I hope you realize that,” another parent said.