CLAREMONT – Masks will remain optional at Claremont school board meetings, although most board members say they intend to wear them.
Masks have been optional for members of the Claremont school board at their meetings since June 2, when the board decided it was safe to remove the mandatory requirement.
Although masking is currently mandatory inside the building during normal school hours, board meetings are considered to pose a low to minimal risk of spreading infection, based on federal and state safety guidelines. . Meetings are generally uncrowded and take place in a spacious room. It is believed that almost all participants, if not all, are vaccinated.
But several board members said this week that board members should always wear masks inside school buildings, where appropriate for public perception.
“I think the main thing is just the optics of entering buildings,” President Frank Sprague said on Wednesday. “I hate wearing masks and I can only assume that other people hate wearing masks too. So for me to be there and they just do it [not right] tome. “
In a telephone interview with The Eagle Times on Friday, Sprague clarified that he was specifically referring to evening council meetings and that council members will follow the district’s hiding policy if they visit a school during the working day.
Board member Steven Horsky agreed to wear a mask, although he said he was less concerned with perception than just fairness.
“As much as I would love to see masking being a choice, if I have to make these kids mask themselves and muzzle them, I’m going to muzzle myself, too,” Horsky said. “Because I am not above these children either. “
Some council members disagreed that wearing a mask was necessarily the best image.
Vice President Heather Whitney, while not opposed to masking, said she preferred masks to be optional for those vaccinated because such privileges are more likely to entice the large percentage of citizens who are not vaccinated.
“The optic I want to send is that we have 90 percent of the people, if not 100 percent of the people in this room who are vaccinated, and when you do that you are getting closer to normal,” Whitney said.
Claremont, with only 44% of its residents fully vaccinated, has the lowest vaccination rate of any city in New Hampshire. Whitney said people have to make their own decisions about vaccination, although she also wants people to see the benefits.
Sprague, who recently recovered from an almost two-week COVID infection, said his illness had heightened his concerns about the spread of the disease.
“After my experience of going to bed at night and not knowing whether tomorrow morning is the morning when I am not able to breathe, because it has been in me for twelve days, it is a dangerous thing for someone who is vulnerable, ”Sprague said. .
Sprague said he contracted the virus despite his vaccination. While studies show symptoms of the virus are generally milder in breakthrough infections, Sprague said he suffered from almost all of the symptoms, including fever, headache, shortness of breath and loss of breath. smell.
“So I will wear a mask, even if I am vaccinated and have had [the virus]”Said Sprague.” I just don’t know I can’t get it again. “
The board did not pass a motion to change the current board meeting rule. Members later told The Eagle Times that they felt a motion was unnecessary given that all members on Wednesday had chosen to mask and there appeared to be an overall agreement on the masking.