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Southern Ill. school board meeting gets heated in debate over mask mandate

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 11:59 PM CDT
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POPE COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - Folks gathered at the Pope County School Board meeting Monday night, August 9 over the debate if students will mask up this school year.

Tempers flared at Pope County’s School board meeting as the school board made the decision to comply to the mandate masks in Illinois schools.

“I don’t want any kid to get sick. I don’t want mine to get sick I don’t want yours to get sick,” said one parent.

“I recommend the school district to follow the mask mandate set by Governor Pritzker. If not, the district can risk not being recognized as a school district by the state,” said Pope County Unit school District #1 Superintendent Ryan Fritch.

“You cannot participate in extracurricular activities that are sponsored by the IHSA but more importantly the potential suspension of school funding,” said Fritch.

He said students need to return in person because so many struggled with remote learning.

“Remote learning just didn’t work last year so our number one job I think as a school district is to get all our students back in school,” said Fritch.

Last year, Pope County High School had 55 virtual students more than have failed at least two classes.

Fritch stated that a quarter of this year’s junior don’t have the credits they need and may not graduate on time.

“It’s more important I feel to get the kids in school whether if that’s with a mask on or a mask off,” said Fritch.

There was mixed feeling from parents and staff both in favor and not in favor of compliance to the mask mandate.

“What about the consequence of my child wearing a mask 8 hours a day,” said one parent.

“I do it for love. Love for everyone of these staff members and every kid represented in this district,” said a staff member.

Fritch believes the best decision will be made for the district and their students

“If that’s with a mask on or a mask off the most important thing is getting the kids back here in school,” said Fritch.

The school district will offer remote learning only to student with medical necessities.

Pope County schools will start classes on Friday, August 13.

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