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UPDATE: Wood County BOE passes mask policy

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 10:03 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2021 at 9:25 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - UPDATE 8/30/2021 8:16 P.M.

The Wood County Board of Education votes 3-2 to pass a mask policy. The decision was made at its special session on Monday evening.

That follows, by the same vote August 13, a decision at another special meeting, to make wearing masks a recommendation rather than a requirement.

It followed a lengthy public forum, where a total of 35 speakers, divided among both sides of the issue, again voiced their opinions on the issue. Several of the speakers were people who spoke at previous meetings.

The mask requirement, according to Superintendent William Hosaflook, is dependent on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources county alert map.

”Masks will be required for all students, staff and visitors, while indoor or on a bus, while Wood County is orange or red, on the DHHR metrics map,” Hosaflook explained. “The mask requirement will remain in place until Wood County is gold or better on the DHHR metrics map for five consecutive days. Masks will also be required on individual school sites as school spread is evident. The district will update the mask requirement status on the district website.”

Masks are also recommended for students, staff and visitors for indoor activities, and for spectators at extracurricular activities.

Board member Rick Olcott, who had voted earlier this month to make masks optional-upholding the BOE policy at that time-Monday night voted to make masks mandatory.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

The Wood County Board of Education may decide whether masks will be required when school starts next week.

The board has a special meeting scheduled Friday morning, to approve hirings for the school year starting August 19.

But it voted Tuesday night to add to that agenda, a discussion-and possible vote-regarding masks, particularly for elementary school youngsters.

The school administration announced last week masks would be optional for the school year.

Members of the public called on the board to change that decision.

”Why would a public institution not place masking mandates,” said citizen Frederick Jesser, “which are essentially in the same realm of safety precautions car seats or nutritional meals, for children who cannot help themselves.”

Board members hope that, before Friday’s meeting, more guidance will come from West Virginia and public health officials.

So far, Gov. Jim Justice, while advocating for more people to get vaccinated, has not indicated he will reimpose a mask mandate lifted June 20.

People opposed to mask mandates praised the administration for its decision making masks for students optional.

One produced a speech by a medical expert, claiming masks-and vaccines-offer no protection from COVID-19 and its variants.

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