WILLIAMSBURG – Arguments have arisen between members of the Williamsburg Community School Board and those in attendance over whether to challenge a state mask mandate.
Instead, the board voted unanimously on Tuesday for a resolution asking state officials to give the district control over security measures related to COVID-19.
The resolution was based on a resolution passed by the Spring Cove School Board on September 20.
Before reading the resolution in its entirety, board chairman Barry M. England said the Wolf administration’s cover-up mandate was tearing school districts apart and pitting people against the board.
“They filed these warrants, and if we do not follow them, it is up to all of us”, said England. “It puts a burden on the schools, the district itself and it puts a burden on us. And we are just ordinary people. We are not paid to do this.
Before voting to approve the resolution, the floor was opened for public comment as the resolution was not included on the board’s agenda prior to the meeting. Several in the audience questioned why more was not being done, with Jill Norris calling for a resolution “just a piece of paper.”
They also expressed dismay that Williamsburg does not accept parental exemptions from the mask’s mandate, citing that other districts in the region do.
“Other school districts have had courage” Joe Detwiler, a Williamsburg police officer, said.
“What is the future of the integrity of the school district? “ Williamsburg Superintendent Lisa Murgas said. “I understand what you are saying. … But where does the integrity of our school district stand when we are given mandates and things that we have to follow – which we have taken an oath to follow – but we will basically say forget what we do not do this? Where do the integrity and beliefs of this school system fall into place? “
Murgas then asked what was the goal of opponents of the mandate. Detwiler said it was to do the right thing.
“Let me ask you, with your position as a police officer, with your lieutenant and your sergeant, you are given orders, what if you don’t follow them?” “ Murgas asked.
“If I saw something happening that I knew was wrong – if I was given an order that I knew was wrong – I wouldn’t do it.” “ Detwiler responded.
“What would happen?” Murgas said. “You would probably be fired. “
“Exactly, but I wouldn’t have done it” said Detwiler. “That’s what I’m trying to convey to everyone here.”
England said Detwiler and other opponents of the masking warrant would put the school district at risk.
Board member Janet Lee said after the cover-up mandate people were not afraid of being sued.
“This is not what it is” Lee said. “These are our people, our children who need to be protected – who have circumstances and health issues – if we let everyone come to school without a mask and one of these children gets sick,” it is the parents who will continue. You are putting their health at risk.
After Murgas got a hold of the meeting, Adam Hileman was the last to address the board.
“I think it’s child abuse” Hileman said of the warrant. “I really do. I think when we look back we’re going to be really embarrassed about what we haven’t done and could have done.
In addition, the board of directors voted to appoint Justin Becker to the post of director of the board of directors of the Township of Woodbury to fill the position left by Timothy Strohmeyer. Strohmeyer had submitted a letter of resignation to the board of directors which was approved with immediate effect.
Mirror Staff Editor Rachel Foor is at 814-946-7458.