JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Jefferson City Board of Education voted Thursday night to keep the JC Schools' COVID-19 reentry plan in place and will reevaluate around the 30th day of school.
Public comment mainly consisted of debating over masks for students in schools.
Watch the meeting replay in the player below.
It's an ongoing battle between those who want masks to remain and those who want the mandate dismissed. But the board intends to follow health officials, and the district health director says these numbers are looking good.
"The 2021 reentry plan worked effectively, and for that reason, the district chose to keep many of those measures in place for this school year," said Bryan McGraw, the JC Schools deputy superintendent.
This means masks for anyone on campus where social distancing is not possible.
During public comment, speakers from the community shared opposing views.
"The school system is continuing an illogical and harmful mass mandate that is not supported by science. I asked you tonight to allow individuals to exercise their right to bodily autonomy and medical freedom," said Kelsey Brown, a Jefferson City resident.
"I appreciate what you're doing for COVID and for preventing COVID because these kids can pick it up at school, take it home to a parent, take it home to grandparent, and then they're dying, they're dying in our hospitals," a speaker said.
The district's back-to-school plan also includes mitigation efforts to minimize spread, such as increased sanitation efforts, social distancing, and virtual education options. Leaders say students do have time without masks at school.
"There are many opportunities for our kids to have masks off throughout the school day, especially when they're at their desks, working with fellow students and working with the teachers," McGraw said.
The district is working with the Cole County Health Department regularly to evaluate opportunities for possible changes to measures.
"These meetings have proved to be very valuable to us, and local school leaders as many different topics are discussed," said Chezney Schulte, a spokesperson for the Cole County Health Department. "We are very supportive of the local school boards and trust that any changes have the best interest of their students and staff in mind."
The board will reevaluate the plan at the end of the month.