In a 7-2 vote, masks are mandatory for students in Shippensburg

August 17 – After a special meeting of the Shippensburg Area School Board last night at the high school where parents were able to have their say about mask mandates, the school board voted in favor of requiring masks for students in the coming school year.

Participants had 3 minutes to stand up and make their comments. A lot of people who were pro-mask mandates submitted their thoughts in writing.

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed the vote in Shippensburg this morning during the Big Talk on First News.

Barkdoll said, “I thought the meeting was run very efficiently. I thought for the most part everyone made really good point – on both sides of this case. That’s part of the dilemma here. For the most part, the parents laid out a very effective case for why these mandates should not be put into place and they were very persuasive in their arguments, but the votes weren’t there to make it optional.”

So masks are mandated for children in K-12 while indoors in Shippensburg.

Barkdoll pointed out, “The politics of this to me are interesting, though, because remember going back a few months ago when Governor Wolf said there would be no more statewide mandates, all of these decisions are now left up to local school districts. Unlike last year when it was all coming down from the state. I don’t think anyone would have imagined here locally that we might have local school districts that would be going down this path. Shippensburg is the first. I realize this is on the agenda of some other local districts. I don’t think the votes are there to mandate this. Just interesting that Shippensburg of all places would have a 7-2 majority to make something like this mandatory. I don’t think it’s going over well with the public. I think if you were to poll the district parents, the district residents up there, they would be overwhelmingly against this, but again the board makes the decision and the parents and teachers and everyone there, whether they like this now or not, they’re going to have to follow this when school starts this week.”

Ryan said, “How many educated elite do we have? Four PhDs. Listen, you knuckle-dragging, Walmart dirty shopper, God and gun fearing people, the PhDs know better than you. You need to sit down and shut up.”

Jansen said, “I didn’t like that there was not really a response from the board acknowledging the really good arguments. Let’s point out, the criticism from the meeting before is that people got out of hand and they were being mean. First of all, we need to talk about decorum and whether a school board can mandate people follow certain rules about their speech. Other than something really extreme. I just want to comment on the parents. I thought last night they reassessed that. They came. They presented cogent arguments. They were passionate, but they were respectful. They made, I just thought, really really good arguments. One of the biggest ones that I thought made sense and I really wish teachers would take this one to heart and admin, why are you putting this burden on the children? Why are you not taking the burden? It was also commented on that someone had asked at one point how many teachers there in their district have been vaccinated and they said we don’t have that information. They’re allowing teachers to make the choice on vaccines and yet they won’t let parents and children make the choice on wearing a mask. Honestly, if you want to be protected as a teacher, get vaccinated. And why don’t we have the teachers wear N95 masks? Then all the adults are protected. If you really want your child to be protected, honestly, if they’re in school and you think they’re vulnerable for some reason and you’re saying I want other kids masked up, your child should be wearing an N95 mask. That’s really the only way you’ll protect them and have them be in-person in school because as people pointed out, masks don’t stop the viruses that effectively.”

Barkdoll said, “I was struck towards the end of the meeting, there was a teacher that spoke against these mandates and one of the things she cited was the on-the-ground, personal observations she made from last year. For the most part these kids don’t really wear these masks properly anyway. She talked about how she’d see them under their chin, sometimes even over the top of their head. She saw masks on the floor that would get stepped on and they would put it back onto their face. I thought that was an interesting observation. She was in the building, watching this day to day and felt for the most part a lot of these kids weren’t really following the mask mandate from last year anyway, maybe to the point where it was causing more harm than good.”

Ryan said, “That’s a great point here. It goes back to hey if you’re so concerned about how your kids are going and what they’re being taught and you want to protect the teachers, light those cameras back up. Let’s put those cameras in those classrooms. Let’s go to school choice and cameras in classrooms. Perfect example right there of the kids are going to do what the heck they want to do.”

Jansen said, “There’s a kindergarten teacher that insisted the kids don’t mind it and they were very good about it and as soon as they get dirty, we change them and we offer them a fresh mask. Maybe she does in her classroom. That’s very possible that that teacher is doing that. She also said she’s trying to work in more outdoor type of things with her students because they said they don’t have to wear them outdoors. That’s one classroom. I think the other observation is also legitimate.”

The beginning of the meeting had called for decorum.

Jansen said, “The president of the school board said we have security here and if you call people names, I will cut off your microphone and we’ll ask you to leave and if you don’t leave, we will escort you out. Is that really legal?

Barkdoll said, “No I don’t think so. I thought Mark, and I don’t know Mark well, he’s an attorney, I thought he did a really good job at running that meeting last night. From what I saw. I didn’t’ see the whole meeting. I caught about the last 45 minutes of it. I think that’s the kind of directive the put out to try to encourage people to act in a civil manner, but that’s almost impossible to enforce. Short of someone getting up and threatening violence or inciting some kind of violence, they have the free speech rights to get up there. They can pretty much say anything they want, even if it did include calling someone a name or getting animated in a way or using language that the board may find offensive. That is all free speech. Apparently there were officers, police officers there last night. The idea of you must act in a way that squares with what they define as proper decorum, they can make that request, but virtually impossible to enforce that.”

Ryan said, “Well you better think about the teacher in Shippensburg calling parents Neanderthals. You better think about school board members calling taxpayers children who don’t listen. You want to have the decorum, it starts with the very finger-wagging PhDs in the first place.”

The parents asked for a survey last night, but it remains to be seen whether one will be conducted.

Gettysburg Area School District held the line on not mandating masks. It was apparently a little bit close, but they did not mandate masks in Gettysburg schools. 

Dr. Dan Stock had this to say at a recent Indiana school board meeting (his comments went viral): “I’m actually a functional family medicine physician. That means I am specially trained in immunology and inflammation regulation. Everything being recommended by the CDC and the state board of health is actually contrary to all the rules of science. The things you should know about coronavirus and all other respiratory viruses, they are spread by aerosol particles which are small enough to go through every mask. As a matter of fact, it quotes at least three studies, sponsored by the NIH to that exact fact, even though the CDC and NIH have chosen to ignore the very science that they paid to have done.”