Tipp City parents call for and against masks outside school board meeting

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Two groups held protests outside the Tipp City Exempted Village Schools Board of Education Office early Tuesday evening, with one supporting a mask mandate for district students and the other urging the continuation of the current no mask requirement in classrooms.

“Freedom Over Fear. Parents’ Choice!” read a sign held by one man joining the mask choice group.

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“Your fear will not be carried on the backs of our children,” read another sign.

Across the street another group was gathered. Among their signs, “Pro Science. Pro Masks. BOE do your job and listen to the Experts” and “Masks for All! Protection for All.”

The group calling for masks said It simply is asking the district to follow Ohio Department of Health Guidelines.

“We want our kids safe and in school. Because not all children have the choice of getting the vaccination yet, we must mask. The vision statement mentions ‘empowering all students to be respectful and responsible citizens with integrity’ and we just ask the same of the district,” said parent Alyssa Kocher.

Tara O’Neill said she thinks it is important that staff and families are given the opportunity to choose what is best for them when it comes to wearing a facial mask.

“I am proud of our board’s decision to leave these health mandates up to the Miami (County) health department, who is only recommending masks in school and quarantine from school when exposed,” O’Neill said.

“I believe the majority of parents in our district support that decision, which should be evident by the amount of students and teachers who go to school without masks. We want our teachers and students to be able to breath freely and we want them to be learning in person. I hope the board and our superintendent will continue to support and stand up for Tipp City’s parents, children and teachers,” she said.

Inside the board office, members of the Board of Education held a work session. The board did not address the district masking policy although a couple members mentioned it during a discussion on the board and a possible leadership development project.

“We have people outside our building asking us to address a bigger issue of keeping our kids safe and in school,” board member Joellen Heatherly said. “I have a hard time investing in this development issue when we have that issue before us.”

Superintendent Mark Stefanik told the board in a weekly report dated Friday that COVID case numbers continue to be monitored as a district and by building. “As of now, masks are optional but we will continue with hand sanitizing and additional cleaning protocols As we continue to monitor COVID data, we will revisit the need for additional protocols,” Stefanik wrote.

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Earlier Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine and leaders of Ohio’s six children’s hospitals made a direct appeal to every K-12 school superintendent and school board across the state to mandate masks for all students.

All of the 12 largest school districts in the Dayton region are now requiring masks — 11 of them for all grades, and Springboro for grades K-6. Troy was the last district to make that decision, at a Monday night school board meeting where the vast majority of residents who spoke were against the mask mandate.