Cumberland Valley parents clash over school board’s decision to lift mask mandate

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MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Cumberland Valley parents are clashing over the school district’s new mask rules.

At a board meeting on Monday night, dozens of parents showed up to voice their feelings about the issue.

After hearing from a large group of parents at a meeting in late May the Cumberland Valley School Board decided to lift the district’s mask mandate on June 5th.

Some parents were thrilled by the decision, others are pushing for them to reconsider.

Anna Samala is one of those leading the charge to put the mask mandate back in place, at least until all kids are eligible to get the vaccine.

“At least until they get the opportunity, the eligibility to get vaccinated,” Samala said. “It’s only until that time we’re asking to put it back on or defer the decision.”

Andrew was one of the parents who pushed for the board members to lift the masking rules in the first place.

“We don’t want anybody to ban masks. If you want to wear a mask we’re happy to let you wear a mask and we support you in that decision. We just want the support to those of us that decide our kids are not going to wear a mask,” Andrew said.

Samala says she’s circulated a petition that’s gathered more than 400 signatures from parents who are also concerned and want the board to put the masking rules back in place.

Parents on the other side have signed a statewide petition with thousands of signatures from Pennsylvanians who want to see mask mandates lifted in all districts.

“Medical decisions and decisions about protecting our children should be made by the parent. Who is the best parent for my kids? That’s my wife and I. Who is the best parent for your kids? It’s you, it’s not me,” Andrew said.

A few students spoke at Monday night’s meeting, thanking the board for lifting the mask rules. One of them was Aidan, who will be a senior in the fall.

“They’re also there to represent our interests as students and I think it’s really important that we realize that our opinions actually do matter,” Aidan said.

Student Abigail Barrick says she supports the decision, partly because it will help school feel normal again.

“It shows that we’re going back to a step of normalcy in our education and it gives us a choice,” Barrick said.

The board did not reconsider their decision at Monday night’s board meeting or mention any future discussions on the issue. That means for now there are no mask requirements in the district for summer activities, or for when class returns in the fall.

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