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Hoover BOE split over face masks in schools

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 11:13 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It’s a showdown over face masks with the Hoover Board of Education. After Thursday’s meeting, the issue will clearly be the deciding factor when board members decide how students will start the new school year.

Right now, in the district’s draft reopening plan, masks are optional for students and teachers.

“The best possible way that I see to keep them physically in the school is to use whatever mitigation strategies we can to make sure they stay as health as they can,” Amy Mudano, a board member said.

“It does not make sense to me for our city, and our state to be wide open and from 8-3, we’re going to say you got to wear a mask and at 3′o’clock, we don’t see these people again until 8′o’clock the next morning,” Amy Tosney, the board president said.

With the Delta variant continuing to spread across Alabama, board member Kermit Kendrick asked for a compromise and recommended mandating masks for at least a month when school starts.

“While I am in favor of our kids being in school all the time, I do think, to get through this spike, we should start school on time but there should be universal masking for at least the first 30 days of school,” Kendrick said.

During the meeting, some students holding signs that read no more masks. Their moms were seen shaking their heads to no universal masking as well but they didn’t want to talk about it on camera.

Earlier in the day, the group Hoover Families for Safe Schools held a rally calling on the district to implement a universal masking policy and all safety recommendations from the CDC, state and county health leaders.

“I want my kid and every other kid in the community to go back safely - this includes high-risk kids, kids with disabilities, and we can’t do that without a mask mandate,” Misty Mathews, a mom said.

Another concern from a board member and parents is the mental health issues around masking and how that impacts learning.

The reopening plan also says students will not have to quarantine if they were in close contact with someone with COVID.

We’ll get the official word on what will happen Friday afternoon when the board votes.

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