JAY – The Regional School Unit 73 Board of Directors passed a motion that will require masks indoors for all persons beginning with the start of the school year. The vote passed 6-5 with two boar members absent.
The decision opposes the results of a district-wide survey that was sent out by Superintendent Scott Albert. According to the feedback, the majority of caregivers were in favor of not mandating masks, but letting families make their own decisions.
“They’re not listening to the parents,” Linda Flagg said during a phone conversation Friday.
Flagg is the facilitator of a Facebook group for parents of students in RSU 73, she is also a parent of two children in the district, though they made the decision to homeschool last year. Flagg said they have decided to homeschool again this year based on the inconsistencies that she predicts will take place again.
“Honestly, our whole philosophy on education has changed in the last year. Traditional education is a thing of the past,” she said.
Requiring masks is not, at this point, a mandate that the government is setting for public schools, though it is recommended. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention specifically recommends wearing masks indoors in areas that are rated as ‘substantial’ or ‘high’ risk. Currently, Franklin and Androscoggin Counties are at a ‘moderate’ level of transmission according to the CDC website, however, surrounding counties have reached the ‘substantial’ level.
“I understand that wearing a mask is not fun or comfortable, but it is a simple task that can prevent a deadly virus,” school physician Dr. Michele Knapp read from a letter to the board. “Let’s all be responsible and think about the safety of our entire community rather than our own comfort.”
Board Chair Robert Staples of Jay voted against the mandate.
“It’s a loaded question,” he said in a phone conversation. “A number of parents do want the mask, and a number of them don’t. Personally, I believe in parent choice. But I encourage all of the board members to gather their own information, and I tell all of them that they’ve got to put the kids first when they vote.”