Troy schools mandate masks despite vocal opposition

Northmont district also broadens mask requirement to all grade levels.

The Troy City Schools Board of Education on Monday night voted 4-1 to implement a face mask requirement for students, staff and district visitors, effective today.

The board vote came during a nearly four-hour meeting in which the mask proposal dominated comments.

A few hundred community members joined the meeting in the Troy Junior High School Gym with more than 35 people speaking. All but four people who offered comments opposed a mask mandate.

As of Monday, Troy was the only one of the 12 largest school districts in the Dayton area to not have a mask mandate of some form.

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Board President Tom Kleptz said following the meeting the board had received a number of emails and comments from parents who supported the mandate.

The length of the mask mandate will depend on the need, school administrators said.

Board members Kleptz, Doug Trostle, Ginny Beamish and Michael Ham voted for the masking resolution while Sue Borchers was the lone opposing vote.

She voted “not yet,” which will be recorded as a no vote. Borchers asked the board to table the proposal and have discussion to “brainstorm” and possibly come up with ways to reduce the number of students being quarantined.

Superintendent Chris Piper outlined the reasons behind the call for masking.

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“COVID is here and is here in force,” he told the board. The district had 146 COVID positive students during the last school year. This year so far, there have been 104 positive students with 43 positive cases last week, Piper said.

Some at the meeting called for the board to remove Piper as superintendent while some others told the board members their seats would be in jeopardy at election time. A few speakers accused the district of considering the mask requirement to get COVID program money, claims Piper and the board said were not true.

Another speaker offered to help other parents file for a religious exemption from the requirement. Forms to apply for religious and medical exemptions from the requirement would be on the district website Tuesday, Piper said.

“It is not your job to tell them (the students) what’s best for them. It’s our job as parents,” said parent Todd Emery.

Justin Crews, a teacher at the junior high, thanked the board for looking at the masking requirement. Data being shared by speakers didn’t include the effect of the delta variant, he said, adding, the variant “changes the game.”

Piper will host a live Facebook chat with Miami County Health Commissioner Dennis Propes at 1 p.m. today to discuss school COVID issues and answer questions.

Northmont changes mask policy

Northmont schools will switch from a partial mask mandate to a full one affecting students, staff and visitors at all grade levels today, school officials said.

Northmont previously had required masks only in grades pre-K-6, as those students don’t have the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Our belief is that we need to do everything in our power to drive our attendance rates back to an acceptable level,” Superintendent Tony Thomas said in a letter to families Monday night.

District spokeswoman Jenny Wood said 410 Northmont students were out of school on isolation/quarantine before the district instituted its pre-K-6 mask policy, and that number was down to 230 after two weeks of the partial mask mandate.

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