Parents in Shippensburg fight for mask mandate to be removed during heated board meeting

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A debate over masking got heated on Wednesday night at the Shippensburg Area School board meeting.

Many parents are unhappy with the mask mandate that the board voted to put into place on Monday.

The issue was not originally on the agenda, so parents felt the board snuck it in without hearing their opinions.

District leaders say the motion was added last minute because the original Health and Safety plan was adopted in July. However a board member at Monday’s meeting made a motion to vote on a mask mandate, and it passed.

On Wednesday night parents expressed frustration about that decision.

“I’ll go to war with you people, whoever I gotta fight physically. I’m sick of this nonsense. I’m not going to sit here and talk nice,” a parent said during public comment.

Dozens of parents were passionate about their fight against masking.

“I will parent my child. You are here to educate my child,” another parent said.

At one point during the meeting, things got so tense that a board member stormed out of the meeting.

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“My daughter who is a kindergartener will be showing up without a mask. What are you going to do? Expel her?” One parent asked. “There will be lawsuits. I promise it.”

Over the nearly 3 hours only 1 speaker voiced support for a mask mandate.

“I don’t love to wear a mask. I certainly don’t look forward to teaching in a mask this year. But I’m willing to do whatever it takes to prevent even one of my students or children from getting seriously ill,” a teacher said.

She was heavily outnumbered by those at the meeting asking for a choice.

“I think it should be up to each individual family. If people want to wear a mask I think that’s fine, but I don’t think it should be forced on the people that don’t want to,” a parent said.

Many said they were planning to take their child out of the district because of the policy.

“I went online and enrolled them in cyber school because I don’t think this is going to get overruled by the time they go to school next Thursday and I will not mask my children,” another parent said.

The board listened to the commenters and decided to schedule a public meeting for Monday, August 16th.

They plan to discuss the issue of masking and possibly vote on a new policy.

Students return to school in the district on August 19th.

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