This story first appeared in the Sept. 23 issue of the Community Voice. To get the best local news and sports, call 270-384-9454 for a subscription.
In an effort to reach a workable compromise, the Adair County school board voted unanimously in a special called meeting Saturday night to keep the current mask mandate in place while the county is in the red critical stage.
If the county comes out of the red zone, then the board will meet to formulate a plan to prepare the district to go back to allowing parents to decide if their children wear masks to school.
“We’re going to stay with parent choice, but as long as our county is in the red, according to our district health department, then we would keep the mask mandate in effect,” said board member David Karnes, who made the motion.
“As soon as the county comes out of the red, the mask mandate would come out of effect. Our board meets every month so we can revisit that every month. That’s probably the best motion I can come up with.”
Prior to making their decision, board members listened to numerous community members speak on the issue. A total of 18 citizens spoke at the public meeting with eight advocating for the mask mandate.
Rosa Vittatoe urged the board to keep the mandate.
“I have been a nurse for 40 years and I have never seen anything like this virus,” she said. “This is real, and we leave work every day crying. Masks work, vaccinations work. It is not about our rights as a parent, or as a person, or the government or school board taking that away from us. It is about loving one another.”
Heather Spoon expressed her opinion against masks but actually suggested a com- promise to the board for consideration.
“Last year when our county was on lockdown, those people we considered our most vulnerable last year are going to Walmart, church, concerts, interacting with a lot of people,” she said. “For our community to think Covid cases can solely be traced back to Adair County schools is far fetched. I would like to offer the compromise of no masks over the nose.”
Board members Troy Grider, Destiny Greer, Dana King, Karnes and Terry Harvey all had an opportunity to speak before a motion was made. School Superintendent Dr. Pam Stephens watched the meeting online.
“I am excited to see parents here, excited to see teachers here and excited to see these children here,” Grider said. “I call for unity because to me that is the most important thing. What scares me more than Covid is the division in our community, division in our families, and the division in our schools. It is masks or no masks, vaccine or no vaccine.”
King explained to everyone in attendance that if the county goes out of the red on a Monday, that doesn’t mean the mandate would end Tuesday and kids can come to school without masks. She said the school district would need time to get ready for the required changes.
“We’re not going to stay in the red forever, so sometime or another, you’re going to be able to see that face mask come off your child,” Karnes said. “There is an ending to this.”
Last Thursday in the board’s regularly scheduled September meeting, the position of a new full-time agriculture teacher was approved. Teaching duties will be split between the middle and high schools.