Norwin board urged to fight mask mandate rules

·2 min read

Sep. 21—A week after the Norwin School Board meeting was abruptly adjourned before business could be conducted because people in the audience would not don face masks, the school board heard the complaints during a virtual meeting and was urged to fight state orders that students be masked while in school.

The board listened to the concerns of parents but took no vote on the matter.

Three residents Monday criticized the school board for not fighting the mask mandates for students that came from the state departments of health and education, as well as orders from Gov. Wolf they contend are illegal.

Norwin had proposed a mask-optional school year in August, but that changed on Aug. 31 when Wolf required wearing masks in school as of Sept. 7, the day before Norwin started classes for the school year.

Kristen J. Bezick of North Huntingdon asked the board to take a vote to end the mask mandate in Norwin and urged members to "break away from conformity and teacher union pressure."

Bezick offered no proof of the district responding to pressure from the Norwin Education Association.

The American Academy of Pediatricians said 925,000 children contracted covid in the past four weeks. Hospitalization rates among children with covid were between 1.6% and 4.2%.

Shawna Ilagan of North Huntingdon, who was selected by fellow Republicans to replace Michael Leroy on the GOP ticket in the November school board election, urged the board to be brave in its fight to oppose the mandate and listen to the majority who opposed the mask-wearing requirements. A July school survey found 68% opposed mask mandates.

Director Patrick Lynn, a Woodland Hills School District teacher, admonished those who criticized the district for following the state's mandates, saying "our hands are tied."

"It's time to grow up and act like adults. If you don't like it, leave," said Lynn, who added that he did not want to have students wearing masks.

Those residents who believe Norwin could permit parents to sign forms waiving any liability for the district allowing their child to go mask-free, would only address one-half of the district's liability problem, said Russell Lucas, district solicitor. Lucas told the board such parental waivers would not protect Norwin from any actions the state Department of Health or the Department of Education would initiate if the district violates the orders.

Director Tony Corsa proposed conducting another survey of people in the district to see if anything has changed since July. Regardless of the results, Lucas said he doubts that would change any of the mask mandates.

Even if students were to be surveyed, Lynn wondered whether the parents would complete the survey for their children.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, jnapsha@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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