HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Midstate’s largest school district is mandating masking for students and staff.

The Central Dauphin school board voted Monday night to include a mask mandate in their health and safety plan. The crowd at that meeting included people both for and against the rule.

Michael Williams, a teacher in the district, says he was going to mask up in his classroom regardless.

“I had already made the determination that I was going to wear a mask this year,” Williams said.

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He thinks a mask mandate is probably a good idea for everyone and says it wasn’t a problem for his elementary school students last year.

“It really was not a distraction or a hassle at all for my students last year to wear their masks,” Williams said.

At the meeting, emotions ran high as people expressed their anger at the board for its decision. School bus driver Roxanne Collins was among those upset.

“I cry because I see these kids coming on the bus every day wearing a mask and they look sad. I can’t see their face. They can’t see my face,” Collins said.

Some local parents fought for a mask mandate, like Dr. Avi Hameroff who is a local physician.

“Prevention remains our key ally in the fight against this virus and the only way we can truly move forward i any way to get towards normalcy,” Hameroff said.

Parent Anna Brandenburg disagrees.

“We must ensure medical freedom. Life is in the breath. And my students have the right to breathe fresh air,” Brandenburg said.

Even Dauphin County coroner Graham Hetrick jumped in on the discussion, arguing against universal masking.

“The age group we’re talking about has almost a 0% mortality to die of what is called the covid virus, 0,” Hetrick said.

Many educators are hopeful the board’s mandate will help keep kids in the classroom. East High School principal Dr. Jesse Rawls was for the decision.

“While universal masking isn’t perfect it does get us one step closer to a normal school year, but more importantly it provides a level of consistency for our students,” Rawls said.

“We desperately want to return to the classroom in the safest way possible and provide the best education we can for them,” Williams said.