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Bermudian hears from the public about masks

The Bermudian Springs school board heard from residents both for and against the mask mandate during the board’s meeting on Tuesday evening.

About 41 minutes of the 52-minute meeting were devoted to public comment, most of which was focused on masks.

Both students and adults presented their opinions, with some arguing against the mandate and another thanking the district for focusing on safety. Some speakers questioned the motives or science behind the state’s mandate and the school board’s acquiescence while others felt protected.

Many were worried about the effects on students who refuse to wear a mask and are kept separate from the larger student group or sent home.

One parent unhappy about masks said he felt the district’s use of the Second Step Program, which offers social-emotional learning programs, is part of Critical Race Theory. He also said he was told students watched CNN. He argued that the district should leave social-emotional learning to the parents.

Another parent also concerned about the mask mandate asked the board to take a closer look at Care Solace, uncomfortable that the company is based in California rather than locally. According to its website, Care Solace is designed to help families.

“Our highly specialized Care Companions match students, staff and families in need to verified, local service providers, securing appointments in days, not weeks or months,” the website states.

The school board did not immediately respond to any comments.

Superintendent Shane Hotchkiss did not provide a report, but he did recognize two current school board members and one former member for their service.

Corey A. Trostle and David A. Reinecker were honored for their eight and 12 years of service, respectively.

Hotchkiss also thanked former board member David Lockard for his 27 years of service. Hotchkiss said Lockard had never been properly recognized due to the pandemic.

The board approved the schools working with Pennsylvania Comprehensive Behavioral Health Services (PCBH) for psychiatric evaluations.

A caucus meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8.

The next regular school board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Meetings are held in the auditorium of Bermudian Springs High School and are also streamed live on YouTube through the district’s channel.

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Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.

You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.

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