Mechanicsburg Area School board makes masks optional after parents advocate for choice

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The heated debate over masking that’s unfolding across the country happened in Mechanicsburg on Tuesday night.

Parents and board members in the Mechanicsburg Area School District spent hours discussing masking at the meeting on Tuesday.

The board eventually voted to make masks optional as part of their health and safety plan for the year. However, they say that could change as the situation changes.

That decision came after a lot of back and forth discussion.

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The meeting was packed with parents who passionately voiced their stances on masking. It was not an evenly divided debate though.

Around 25% of the parents who spoke at the meeting wanted masks to be mandatory. The remaining majority wanted the board to make it optional.

Jesse White was one of the parents asking for the mask mandate.

“It is a fundamental part of a school’s mandate is to make sure our kids are as safe as reasonably possible. And as has already been said, it’s been proven, masks make us safer,” White said.

Colette Medlin asked board members to make masking optional.

“I am just fighting for an option. I am not telling everybody they need to do it my way. I just want a choice for everyone,” Medlin said.

Medlin is actually pulling her daughter out of public school and putting her into a private school for the upcoming year, because of the back and forth that there has already been over masking and COVID policies.

She says she’s heard from many other parents that are making the same choice because of all the uncertainty over the upcoming school year.

While some people were happy with the board’s vote to make masks optional, some wanted the board to go a step further.

Because the board left the option open for a mask mandate in the future, parents asked that the health policy have specific guidelines for requesting exemptions.

The board says that is something they do plan to discuss.

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