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Wrightstown school board gets surprises: New leader, parental opposition to mask mandate

Posted at 9:45 a.m. on May 20, 2021

The Brillion News

WRIGHTSTOWN - Most meetings of the Wrightstown Board of Education are routine, programmed and predictable. But not the one on Wednesday, May 19.

If it was a multiple choice question, the answer would have been "none of the above."

It began when Board President Mike Van Eperen laid out strict rules for citizens who wanted to address the board - including a time limit of three minutes per speaker.

It was one of Van Eperen's final acts as board president. Five minutes later, on a 4-3 secret ballot, the board replaced Van Eperen as board president with board member Tom Eggert.

[<< Ed Byrne/BN photo of new WCSD school board President Tom Eggert]

Then, after a presentation on the high school's FBLA chapter, the floor was opened up for public comment.

Parents and one high school student then delivered a strong message: Parents, not the school district, should determine whether a child has to wear a face covering in school.

The first speaker, a construction company employee, countered the school mask mandate issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control, with a mandate by another federal agency - the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Using a hand-held workplace oxygen sensor, he showed that the air under a mask is so low on oxygen that OSHA rules consider it dangerous.

When the open forum closed, and a discussion of the mask mandate and summer school followed, it was clear that the majority of school board members sided with the citizens who spoke.

[<< Ed Byrne/BN photo of an unmasked parent speaker]

No formal vote was taken, but Superintendent Carla Buboltz said she sensed that "parental choice" was the board's prevailing sentiment.

However, she raised another concern: whether teachers - already in short supply for the three-week summer school session in June - would opt out of teaching summer school classes, wiping out the program, if the mask mandate was removed.

The board listened for an hour as administrators presented a detailed outline of everything the district did during the 2020-2021 school year to accommodate rules imposed by federal, state and county health officials. Although it was often self-congratulatory, and justifiably so given the fact that students were in school all year, it also presented a clear picture of the minefield the schools had to navigate as outside agencies issued ever-changing edicts for the schools to follow.

The presentation also noted that the Wrightstown Community Schhols were the only public schools in Brown County that had in-person, face-to-face instruction five days a week for the entire school year.

Stay tuned.

~ Ed Byrne/BN wrote this report as an on-line news brief. The complete story, with updates, will be featured in the May 27 print edition of THE BRILLION NEWS.


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