Lack of masks at board meeting leads to student confusion

Screenshot+of+the+November+Meridian+CUSD+15+school+board+meeting.+Some+students+question+this++%22do+as+I+say%2C+not+as+I+do%22+message%2C+as+students+have+been+told+to+wear+a+mask+when+they+are+in+the+building%3A+hallways%2C+classrooms%2C+extracurricular+activities.+

photo by Screen capture of board meeting with illustration

Screenshot of the November Meridian CUSD 15 school board meeting. Some students question this “do as I say, not as I do” message, as students have been told to wear a mask when they are in the building: hallways, classrooms, extracurricular activities.

At the last Meridian school board meeting, the attending members of the board were not wearing masks although masks are required inside the building for students and teachers at all times.

“Per the guidelines of the Illinois Department of Public Health, a 6 foot separation threshold defines social distancing,” Chris Jones, school board president, said, “and in addition to how these guidelines are set forth, maintaining a 6 foot or greater separation does not require a mask in order to be compliant with these guidelines.”

Although this is true for general mask use in public, rules for most schools are slightly different.

“All persons on school grounds including students, teachers, school nurses, administrative…must wear a face covering at all times when in school”

— IDPH

 

“All persons on school grounds including students, teachers, school nurses, administrative and secretarial staff, food service personnel, custodial staff, public safety personnel, etc., must wear a face covering at all times when in school or in transit to and from school via group conveyance (i.e., school buses), unless a specific exemption applies,” as stated on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website under Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Schools, Additional Guidance as of November 4, 2020.

If board members had to talk to each other in closer proximity, then masks were worn. People attending the board meeting who could not be six feet apart were asked to wear masks.

“The past 2 monthly board meetings have seen an unexpected increase in public attendance, comprised mainly by those employed as educators within our District,” Jones said.

The next monthly board meeting will take place in a larger room to make sure everyone there can social distance.

“Before the start of the Nov monthly Board Meeting, the question was raised to everyone in the room as to whether they were comfortable with the setup of the meeting.  Most visibly agreed that they were comfortable, and no one spoke up that they were concerned with the meeting setup,” Jones said.

Although everyone who was there was comfortable with the way the meeting was socially distanced, some students still had strong opinions.

“There’s no reason they shouldn’t be required to wear them for a short meeting, when we have to wear them all day at school, including staff,” Alyssa Anglin, senior in-person learner said. “If they’re going to make decisions on what we have to do, they should be following what we have to do already.”