People voice opinions on BDS no mask mandate

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 9:53 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Bay District School students have been in classes for more than a month now with no mask mandate. Even though mandating masks wasn’t on the school board agenda Tuesday, people still voiced their opinions.

When the school board voted at the meeting two weeks ago to not mandate masks for students or teachers, they said they would periodically come back to discuss and re-examine the need for masks. Chairman Steve Moss says this does not mean they would re-vote on masks every two weeks.

“Folks are very passionate about masks whether it’s something we’re voting on or we’re not voting on,” said Moss.

Area medical students were some of those passionate enough to voice their concerns to the board about the current COVID policies.

“I would just like to again acknowledge the CDC recommendations, that is what your local medical providers are going to be using and that we strongly recommend that you follow those CDC recommendations,” fourth-year medical student Emily Rebetski said.

CDC guidelines recommend universal indoor masking, social distancing of three feet, and encouraging vaccines for all kids eligible. Many concerned parents also asked for the school board to re-vote and mandate masks, while others want to keep it as optional.

“I implore you all to please, please hear the heart of your community, that is why I did this, and please take this seriously and please vote again,” parent Jennifer Owen said.

Superintendent Bill Husfelt said he doesn’t see masks coming up again in any meetings soon.

“I’m the one that wanted all of the employees to wear masks and so the board voted not to do that. I have never been one to think that our students should be wearing masks. I’ve just read and read and read and I still just don’t see that masks are effective for children,” said Husfelt.

As of Tuesday, there were 64 new BDS COVID cases between students and staff. This raises the total to 647 positive cases, or 3% of the overall population in the district. Husfelt said these numbers don’t surprise him with how quickly the delta variant spreads. It’s still up to the parents whether their child wears a mask.

“So a lot of people are mask, anti or pro, that being said, we’re not saying that your child cannot wear a mask to school. If you think that that’s in their best interest as a parent, absolutely send them to school in a mask, but that’s your choice. Same thing with our staff, we’re not saying that they cannot wear a mask, if they want to absolutely do that if you think that’s what’s in your best interest,” Moss said.

Moss said they’re following what the Department Of Health and Department Of Education are telling them for who is appropriate to quarantine or not.

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