Opinion by Lisa Betz-Marquez, Gering Citizen
There was an item of interest this morning in the Star Herald: Gering parents form group protesting school mask requirements.
Last month, Gering School officials elected to mandate mask wearing for all freshman students and high school teachers for 14 days at the end of September. The mandate is reported to be a reaction as the Star Herald reports: “According to (Superintendent Nicole Regan), when three freshmen students in the same classroom all came down with COVID, it was classified by Panhandle Public Health District as an “emerging outbreak,” which was different from the thresholds set by the school.”
Concerned parents have formed a group on Facebook called, Gering Schools – PARENTS FOR CHOICE! Gering parent Kristin Beamon, who emailed the school board on behalf of the group requesting a special session to discuss mandates, is quoted in the article linked. (There is considerable detail about her communications with board president BJ Peters in the story, link provided, which I recommend you read.)
Ultimately, the group was invited to attend the October 18th regular board meeting and to speak during the public comment period. Note: when people speak during public comment period, no action can be taken, so if this group expects action, they’ll be disappointed. This is only one formal step toward making change.
The meeting is this Monday, and I will be there.
Though I do not have children, all children are of concern, as are parental rights, and the God-given right for all people to have autonomy over their bodies. If these matters concern you too, and you are near Gering, I encourage you to attend this meeting on Monday night. As the former owner/editor of the Gering Citizen newspaper, which we closed in 2016, I will be there functioning as a watchdog on the local media, specifically to ensure the evening’s business receives appropriate, full, and fair coverage.
Additionally, we have learned through Facebook chatter among concerned parents, though unreported by local media, some of the Gering High School teachers refused to wear the mask and were either asked to leave or walked off the job. There is no report on how many teachers nor what day this took place, because the public wasn’t informed by local news outlets about this occurrence. I wonder why. If we still operated the Gering Citizen newspaper and there was a story of a mask mandate and teachers that refused to comply leaving their classrooms, it would be breaking and front page news.
Here is the story published by the Star Herald newspaper about the parental group’s interactions with the Gering School board and superintendent. https://tinyurl.com/4h55aj8w
Also of interest, board member Brent Holliday recently resigned, with an effective date of September 15, 2021. No reason was offered for the resignation; however, taking note of the timing, it might be worth a ponder whether there could be a connection to the decision to mandate mask wearing at Gering High School. https://tinyurl.com/z9m4854w
Gering School Board Meeting
Monday, October 18, 20216 p.m., at Gering City Hall, 1025 P Street, Gering
Important Note: Those planning to speak will want to provide advance notice to the Gering Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Nichole Regan, by submitting the form at this link: https://www.geringschools.net/staff/?search=regan
Each speaker will be allotted 5 minutes. It is good practice to plan ahead with a written statement you can read to ensure you speak clearly and within the 5-minute time frame. Make your voice heard on this important matter.