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GASD approves health and safety plan making masks optional

On a 7-1 vote the Gettysburg Area School District approved the current health and safety plan for the district at their board meeting on Monday.

The plan makes facemasks optional but recommends that people who are not vaccinated wear them.

The approved plan included last-minute changes proposed by board member Mike Dickerson which were discussed by the board at a workshop meeting before the vote.

Dickerson said the changes he proposed had been reviewed by a law firm and were consistent with the original plan making masks optional but that they gave local administrators more control over the plan. Dickerson said his changes didn’t alter the intent of the document and were “consistent with other districts in Pennsylvania.”

A key change to the document was the deletion of a statement that “the district would follow any state mandates concerning masking.”

The board solicitor said he believed the plan was legal, although he had not had a chance to review the changes prior to the meeting.

Voting against the plan, board member Kathleen Adams Pratt said the language in the revised plan was not specific and “in places are non-committal and in places are contradictory.” Pratt said the document “no longer created a plan. I didn’t have enough time to digest it; to get answers that I need. I didn’t see why the changes were needed except to dilute intent.”

District Superintendent Jason Perrin said his major goals were getting children back in school and communicating decisions to parents.

The health and safety plan is required to be submitted to the state to allow the district to qualify for state funds.  The plan must be reviewed every 6 months but may be changed more often.

Perrin said future pandemic-related directives would likely come from the Dept. of Health rather than the Dept. of Education and that state mandates could come at any time that would change things.

“No matter what plan we adopt this evening the unknown is out there,” said board president Kenneth Hassinger.

A full recording of the workshop and meeting is available here.

The next scheduled meeting of the school board will be on August 16.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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