Montoursville School Board rejects masking motion

The Montoursville Area School Board rejected a motion to require masking by students and staff at its meeting this week.

With COVID-19 infection rates at high levels, the board considered putting in place the masking requirement at least until transmission levels across Lycoming County decrease.

The board’s decision came after some discussion and opposition to masking by several people who spoke during the meeting,

Prior to that vote, the board had rejected a motion to table the matter until the district’s health and safety committee came back to the board with more information about a plan for COVID-19.

“I don’t think we should vote on this tonight,” Ron Snell, board member, said.

He said he felt the community would probably want to see a plan too.

Dale Ulmer, who is also a board member, agreed.

“I will vote on no masking until I see the health and safety plan,” he said.

Board President Dave Shimmel urged the board to take a vote on the masking issue.

He said even if the board approved masking, school directors could always reverse that decision.

“I personally want to vote on this,” he said.

Snell said he felt masking of students should be left up to their parents, not the school district.

He added that no one is stopping anyone from wearing a mask in school.

The board took action on a number of personnel matters.

The board approved the retirements of Steven Tressler, a science teacher with 21 years of service, and paraprofessionals, Valarie Mowery and Anne Strein.

The following people were approved for positions:

• Alexus DegBrina, long-term English teacher.

• Douglas Sauter, custodian, $15.24 per hour.

• Robyn Smelko, art teacher, $62,678 annual salary.

• Barth Carson, guest teacher.

• Jessica Riech, junior high cheerleading coach, $1,200 stipend.

The board approved an agreement with Westchester, A Chubb Co. to provide cyber liability insurance for $13,442 for this year. The cost is an increase from this last year’s $9,085.

School directors approved the hiring of up to five special education teachers.

The next board meeting is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25.


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