Large crowd addresses DASD School Board about mask requirements by Glenn Schuckers

A group of some forty people attended the September 16 work session of the DuBois Area School Board. The group was there to protest the decision of the Board to abide by the Pennsylvania Department of Health order that all students be required to wear masks while inside buildings.

Previously the school had required masks on buses but not in the buildings. Before opening the meeting to comments from the audience, Jennifer Dombeck, representing the Beard Legal Group, spoke outlining the board’s position and briefly explaining the legal position the Board is in. The Beard Legal Group of Altoona has been the solicitor for a number of years.

Board president Larry Salone explained that due to the number of people present, comments would be limited to the two minutes traditionally allotted to speakers. He also reminded the audience that they needed to respect all speakers and allow all the opportunity to speak whether they agreed with what was being said or not.

For the next approximately sixty minutes, many speakers addressed to board stating their opposition to the Board’s policy. Some speakers said they were opposed because the rule ion unconstitutional, while others said it was their opinion that requiring children to wear a mask is harmful to their physical or emotional health. A few said they felt forced mask wearing is child abuse, and one stated that required mask wearing instills fear that without a mask children will die. A few said that the mask requirement is just the first step to requiring vaccinations, something that one speaker said would bring him back “in a way you won’t like.”

Although many speakers did adhere to the two minute limit, the board did allow other individuals to “donate” their two minutes to speakers who needed more time to express their opinions. In order to do that they were asked to give their name and address and remain with the speaker whose time was extended.

One speaker did approach the podium to express her support for the policy only to be met with boos and comments, causing Salone to remind the audience of his admonition to allow everyone to express his or her opinion without interruption.

Following the time given for audience comments, three others gave their opinions either via the internet hookup or over the phone.

Both Dombeck and Salone told the audience that this was not a “question and answer” (Q and A) session so for the most part the neither the board nor the superintendent responded to the audience comments.

After the audience comments were finished the board went over the agenda and had no questions about any of the proposed items.

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