Giltner school sets plans for return policy

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■ BOE votes against requiring masks, but strongly encouraged

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Giltner’s board of education approved several aspects of its return to school policy during Monday’s regular meeting.

Several of those bullet points revolved around the wearing of masks and face coverings. It was voted on and approved that no student or faculty member within the school would be required to wear one, though it would be strongly encouraged.

As with most things during the current state of affairs, Giltner Supt. Nick Mumm pointed out that the plans of reopening are subject to change as things develop throughout the year.

The meeting was moved to the old gym at the school to accommodate the crowd in attendance and follow social distancing guidelines. Monday’s meeting was the first in-person board meeting since the COVID-19 shutdown.

The first aspect of the school’s re-opening plan determined plans for site of instruction.

There were three listed plans, of which Giltner’s administration recommended to the board plan one, which stated “Student instruction will occur in-person in the classroom unless otherwise required by law. All students who are enrolled in the school district must attend school on all days when school is open for in-person instruction unless the student’s illness makes attendance impossible or impractical or is otherwise excused by board policy.”

That plan was also selected by the school board and approved with a 5-0 vote.

The next phase revolved around masks and different groups of individuals associated with the school. The first of which focused on teachers, faculty and volunteers.

Giltner’s administration recommended the first plan, which described teachers, faculty and volunteers being required to wear masks at all times unless the nature of the instruction or other activity makes face covering unsafe or impossible.

Before voting on a plan, board member Ross Lyon shared some of his thoughts on the issue.

“I feel the same way about the staff and employees as I do the kids,” Lyon said about wearing masks. “I have an opinion about the constitutionality of some of this stuff. Other people may think I’m out in left field and that’s okay. I’m here to represent the community.”

Lyon went on to read a prepared statement about the possibility of requiring mask wearing and how he ultimately was not in favor of pushing that.

“At-risk population and those who are sick can self quarantine and society should take best care of them as possible,” Lyon started. “However, healthy, lawabiding citizens should not be forced to take any precaution that can result in physical or emotional harm and that impinges on their constitutional rights.

“I think our paras and our staff should have the right to decide whether they will wear a mask or not. That’s my opinion. I understand what the doctor said and the health issues to that, but that is the essential difference that sets us aside from every other society in the world is our constitutional rights.”

Instead of taking the school’s recommendation, the board motioned to approve plan two, which states teachers, faculty and volunteers “will not be required to wear face coverings at all times, but are strongly encouraged to do so.”

The board approved the mandate on a 4-1 vote with board president Chris Waddle voting no.

As for students, the school administration recommended plan three which would have had students wearing masks in all common areas, including hallways, media center, etc.

Again, the board motioned for plan four, which states students “will not be required to wear face coverings at all times, but will be strongly encouraged to do so.”

The motion was approved 4-1 with the lone no vote coming from Waddle.

Earlier in the meeting, Mumm shared concerns from Giltner’s bus drivers, who would prefer that student riders be required to wear masks.

Based on the board’s decision Monday, that won’t be a requirement.

Mumm also discussed that many of Giltner’s return to school policies have been in the works for more than a month and a half.

“The plan is based around the color wheel of green, yellow and red, like the Central Health District,” Mumm said. “Green is low risk, yellow moderate and red the building is closed and learning will be from home.”

If the school ever needs to go to home learning, every student will be provided at the beginning of the year with a Chromebook and unlike last year, it will be a requirement to participate.

“Our goal is to be prepared and alert,” Mumm said.

The school currently sits in the yellow phase and if CDHD changes the color rating, that will dictate what the school will do.

Dr. Jeff Muilenburg addressed the board before the vote to share his thoughts as a medical professional on the importance of social distancing, wearing masks and proper hand washing.

“The best way to slow this down is to socially distance, wear masks and wash hands,” he said.

While Muilenburg said there are ways to help slow the virus, it is impossible to be perfect and that it will spread.

“You can’t prevent something you can’t see and inhale from someone else,” Muilenburg said.

That considered, Muilenburg also pointed out how important school, and having school be in person, is to everyone involved,

“You need to start school. We can show there’s bigger consequences by not starting school,” Muilenburg said. “School is important with multiple layers. No one would say don’t do school.”

Teachers at GPS are set to return Aug. 3 with the first day for K-12 students slated for Aug. 6.

In other items on the agenda, the board:

* the application for a Volkswagen grant to purchase a new bus. The grant would cover $42,000;

* approved teacher contract for 7-12 social studies teacher Trevor Patsios.

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