Face masks a hot topic as Millard school board discusses reopening plan

Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 7:00 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Millard Public Schools board met Monday evening to go over plans to reopen for the upcoming school year, including what COVID-19 protections should be in place.

At the meeting, they heard from parents and teachers, some by video conference. Each was allowed to speak for three minutes.

A group of MPS parents says they want the wearing of masks to be a parental decision, not one mandated by the school board. In an informal poll of those at the meeting, a minority of those in attendance indicated they oppose mandating masks.

Fifty-six parents signed a letter saying kids should go back to school for mental development, but in order to do so safely, masks are needed.

In contrast, chiropractor Monte Hinze read a letter he said was signed by 24 state medical and health workers speaking against wearing masks, saying it’s unhealthy for a child to wear a mask for six or more hours. He said it complicates breathing and that kids who wear masks are more likely to touch their faces.

Saying he was speaking for MPS teachers, Tim Royers said almost 70 percent of educators say they want a mask mandate and that if there is not one, they may not return to work.

Teacher Heidi Berry said a mask mandate does not take away children’s rights and that she sees mask-wearing as a way for teachers to educate kids on how to be responsible citizens. She also asked for school days to be cut in half to provide for daily deep cleaning.

Aarron Schurevich, a teacher and sports coach in the district, said not wearing masks put older teachers at risk. If those teachers can’t come to school, he said he fears students will suffer.

Parent John Buttler, who said he has four kids attending Millard schools, said one of his sons may have been exposed to COVID-19 by a football coach. He said not enough information was given to him and that the school needs to do a better job of tracking cases among teachers.

Correction: A previous version of this story had an incorrect first name of the local chiropractor who spoke at the meeting. 6 News regrets the error.

Copyright 2020 WOWT. All rights reserved.

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