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Mt. Zion schools to require masks

Staff Writer

The Mt. Zion School Board met on August 10 and with a 5-1 vote approved the amended return to learn school plan. In part of this plan, it went from masks being recommended at Mt. Zion Schools to that mask are required at Mt. Zion Schools.

There were 22 community speakers during the board’s public forum. Of those 22 speakers, most of them voiced their opinions on why masks shouldn’t be mandated in the schools. Examples of opinions included: masks not fully working, the healthcare system is being dishonest with the public and that kids are stressed from wearing the mask, how masks have been a distraction in the classrooms and schools in general and how the mask has affected students mentally and socially.

Mt. Zion approved their former Return to Learn Plan at the July meeting. In that plan, it laid out that masks would be recommended. On August 4, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker put in a requirement that all schools K-12 in the state must require a mask for anyone in the building.

The Illinois High School Association also adopted this rule for all indoor sports whether you are a spectator, athlete or coach.

The board discussed with their legal counsel what could happen if it was voted that masks were to be not required. The consequences ranged from different things such as the recognition of a school could be taken away which would make the school ineligible for State funding and could possibly face closure, the Governor cpuld file litigation seeking an injunction against the district to compel compliance with the mask mandate, loss of tort immunity and also that any board member who voted no to this mask mandate could open themselves up to personal liability.

Also sports or extracurricular activities could have been affected by the results. If the mask mandate was voted down, the IHSA could not allow sports teams to compete.

“We don’t want to make it all about sports, we know sports are very important in our community,” Mt. Zion Superintendent Travis Roundcount said. “It is very important to those kids because they come to school for those extracurricular activities. So they can play football, or baseball or basketball, they want to be here for those activities. And we don’t want to risk anything for it to possibly be taken away.”

The result of this discussion ended in a 5-1 vote that passed the approval of the amended Return to Learn Plan. Voting no was board member Matthew Beavers. Also on the amendment was a wording chant that says if quarantined by the health department the district will provide learning opportunities to the student.

The next school board meeting will be held on September 21 at 6:30 p.m.

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