Masking Required in ‘Grove Schools, Despite Dissents

Mask opponent James Troutman of Lower Pottsgrove (foreground at top) speaks Tuesday night to members of the Pottsgrove school board

WEST POTTSGROVE PA – Virus-protective face masking for students and employees within Pottsgrove School District buildings, which the Pennsylvania Health Department made effective last week as a requirement in schools statewide, officially became district policy Tuesday (Sept. 14, 2021) night. The school board voted unanimously to adopt it as part of the district Health and Safety Plan.

The vote was preceded by comments from several district residents who opposed having their children wear masks, primarily for reasons of health, socialization, or personal choice. Some charged board members with ignoring constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties. Others suggested masking was illegal, or a dangerous experiment. One called them “cowards.”

For a while during their meeting in the West Pottsgrove Elementary School gym, it appeared as if board members intended to avoid comments of their own in making the decision. The 9-0 vote was conducted in-person by members Robert Lindgren, Ashley Custer, Patti Grimm, Tina McIntyre, Jay Strunk and Dr. Charles Nippert, and remotely by members Al Leach, Jim Lapic, and Bill Parker.

Masking Required in 'Grove Schools, Despite Dissents
Six of nine board members were present in-person at West Pottsgrove’s gym when the health and safety policy vote took place.
Three other board members participated virtually

Later in the meeting Parker, who like others complained that hearing a Zoom broadcast of the session ranged between difficult and impossible, spoke up.

“It is our duty to protect all of our students and all of our staff,” Parker said, and although medical experts admit masks are not fool-proof they generally agree “it is wise” to wear them indoors. “If we did not and do not follow their directions, we would be negligent,” he noted.

“Wearing masks is to protect others, not ourselves. Yes, parents have rights. All parents have rights,” Parker continued. “Every parent, every student, and every staff member has the right to be in a school building that is doing its due diligence to protect them and their children.”

Mask opponents were equally vocal.

“I call on you to make masks optional for all grades, effective immediately,” said Jamie O’Neill of West Pottsgrove. “The health care choices we have as parents for our children are not for sale,” she said, referring to federal money distributed for COVID-19 safety measures. “You do not have the right to use money for your own personal definition of health and safety to justify stripping us parents of our rights … You are violating civil liberties of these children because you believe you can.”

“I’m here to talk about this illegal experiment being done on our children with this mask medical device … The school district cannot use our children for this,” James Troutman of Lower Pottsgrove said. The practice, he added, was being conducted without individual or parental consent. “Call it a loophole all you want,” Troutman suggested, “it’s what we Americans call checks and balances. Putting a mask on an entire school district oversteps your authority.”

Dustin DeTillo of Lower Pottsgrove suggested board members “are either stupid or complicit in what’s going on right now in our country … We didn’t vote for the Department of Health. We voted for elected officials … You guys are cowards. You guys ain’t heroes. Because it’s the rules? What, you guys afraid men in black from the Department of Health are going to come in and arrest you? That what you’re afraid of?” He urged board members to “stand up,” and “say we’re not following this.”

DeTello also said he personally believed mask mandates would remain until coronavirus vaccine mandates we instituted.

“You have all been lied to,” Andrew Korman of Upper Pottsgrove said as he faced the board audience. “We were all told 15 days to slow the spread. That was a complete lie. The government does not love freedom. They love control. This is about control.” He cited what he described as climbing rates of mental illness, suicides, and other consequences of lockdowns and mandates. “The damage of the solution is worse than the damage of the problem,” he asserted.

According to its agenda, the board-authorized policy states in part that “individuals will be required to wear masks until exemptions are approved.”

Screenshots by The Post from video streamed by The PCTV Network