SOUTHINGTON ‚Äď The local school district cannot circumvent the governor‚Äôs mask mandates, says Superintendent of Schools Steve Madancy, following a large turnout at a recent education meeting from the Parent‚Äôs Choice group.
Parent‚Äôs Choice is a group of parents from Southington and surrounding towns who want parents to be able to opt out of mask wearing, critical race theory and LGBT curriculum. At the most recent Board of Education meeting, members of this group spoke for three-and-a-half hours, with most speakers focused on the mask issue.
‚ÄúIt seems that people thought we had the authority to make the decision at our meeting, but we don‚Äôt,‚ÄĚ Madancy said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs clear both from the emails we received and the people who spoke publically that there is a lot of passion on both sides of the issue of if students should be wearing masks or not. But for anything to change, governor would have to issue a new executive order.‚ÄĚ
Madancy clarified Gov. Lamont‚Äôs executive order 13A provides the Commissioner of Public Health with the authority to require masks in schools.
‚ÄúI'm an educator not epidemiologist, so I will defer to the medical experts,‚ÄĚ he said.
Madancy said some speakers also spoke against critical race theory. However, he said right now the school district‚Äôs priority is reopening schools.
‚ÄúThat is something we‚Äôll address with a discussion with the community at some point, but right now our focus is reopening schools,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúOne thing we will have to address is ‚Äėwhat is the shared definition we have‚Äô of critical race theory? Depending on who you ask, there are different interpretations.‚ÄĚ
Madancy said opting out of LGBT curriculum was not brought up at this meeting.
As for reopening schools, Madancy said parents have ‚Äúoverwhelmingly‚ÄĚ provided feedback that they want in-person learning with a minimal impact to children.
‚ÄúBy far, the vast majority of people were proud that we offered in-person learning every day from start to finish last year, with the only interruptions being when there were positive covid-cases and contact tracing,‚ÄĚ he said.
Madancy said parents can expect similar regulations to be in place this school year.
‚ÄúOne thing that will be different though is that far less students will be impacted by quarantine requirements for contact tracing,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe state has changed the guidance; it used to be that anyone within six feet of someone who tested positive would have to quarantine. That has now been reduced to people who came within three feet of the person with a positive case and stayed there for 15 minutes or more. It‚Äôs now just the people in the immediate surroundings of the positive case instead of the entire class.‚ÄĚ
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.