The Montoursville Area School Board this week approved a health and safety plan for this school year that keeps in place optional masking of students and staff.
The plan also calls for the district to take into consideration the state Department of Health’s contact tracing requirements and optional exceptions as deemed by the Centers for Disease Control and/or the Department of Health.
Verbiage for contact tracing was altered from previous language that called for the district to “continue to follow the Department of Health contact tracing requirements.”
The vote was 8-1 in favor of the plan.
Voting yes were Dale Ulmer, Ron Snell, Susan Beery, David Young, Dave Shimmel, Todd Badger, Daniel Albert, and Joseph LeCrone.
Dottie Mathers voted no.
In discussing the plan, Mathers said she felt it was important to actually follow the CDC and state recommendations.
“There are community risks,” she said.
She said she felt uncomfortable not following recommendations from the experts.
To which board member Ron Snell said, “How did recommendations of experts work out for you last time?”
Mathers said she was concerned both from a health and legal perspective.
“I think ethically, morally, it’s good to follow the recommendations of the experts,” she said. “I don’t want to teach our students that we fight the government all the time.”
Shimmel questioned who the experts are.
“That is what has been maddening about this for two years,” he said.
Albert said the right decisions will be made as situations arise.
“As a district, we will do what we have to do,” he said.
Shimmel noted that the district’s nursing staff follow protocols for COVID-19.
In 2021, parents of more than a dozen Montoursville Area School District students filed a lawsuit over a COVID-19 state masking mandate.
However, the litigation was eliminated when the district went to a mask optional policy.
Dan Taormina, district assistant superintendent, thanked the board for keeping the plan pretty much the same.
He said it will help provide consistency for everyone going into the new school year.
In other matters, the board approved an agreement with BLaST IU 17 for website hosting and with the Lycoming-Clinton Joinder Board for student assistant services for this school year.
The board approved on first reading policies covering participation in extracurricular activities and school-sponsored events including ineligibility based on use of controlled substances and criminal activity.
In personnel matters, the board accepted the resignations of Brenda Lewis, cafeteria worker, and Lauren Guinter, health care aide.
The board approved the hiring of Angelina Santalucia as a part-time paraprofessional at $12.75 per hour.
Mikayla Arnold was approved as head coach for girls softball at a stipend of $3,000. Arnold replaces Michael Tate.