Waterville Central School District will move forward with a test run of a School-Based Health Center although some parents and Board of Education members want the money used elsewhere.
Waterville’s marathon four-and-a-half hour Board meeting last week took place on a muggy night in a crowded room without air conditioning and the requirement everyone wear masks for the duration.
About a dozen people toughed it out to discuss with the Board their opposition about both the Healthcare Center funding and that all students, regardless of vaccine status, must wear facemasks full time when inside when school re-opens next month.
The re-opening plan calls for all students to return to full in-school instruction with no remote option offered. School begins Sept. 7.
WCS Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Spring said Waterville will implement the plan being done by all schools in Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES. The state Department of Health said regulations will be set at a local level this year.
Oneida County just moved into the Substantial Risk category for the spread of Covid-19. Neighboring Herkimer County is in the High Risk category, something Spring said was worrisome.
All students will have to wear a facemask while inside, even those who have been vaccinated. Students riding the bus will wear a mask, although the distancing between students allows for full capacity.
Inside, Spring said, a 3-foot rule between students will be followed as much as possible. Band and choir classes will maintain 6-feet apart.
Students will have daily temperature screenings before entering classrooms.
Practice for fall sports begins Aug. 23. Athletes will be able to play outdoor sports without a mask, but require to wear one indoors.
During the meeting’s first public comment period, which lasted almost two hours and included comments by some Board members, parents in attendance first asked about the rule requiring facemasks inside.
Spring said the District plans to start out strict with the hope of being able to relax the regulation as the Delta variant wanes. “We will utilize the outside as much as possible,’’ she said.
Parent Erin Glazier asked at what cost will students pay to wear the mask, saying some kids do not want to return to school if they have to wear one. “There should be an option for parents,’’ she said, of wearing a mask or not, and sending their child or not.
Spring pointed out that all students under 12 are not vaccinated, and masks outside would be optional.
Parent Matt Patterson said it was difficult to explain to vaccinated children, who have been gathering all summer with friends, why they need to wear a mask…