Earlier this week, school board members at Minersville Area School District voted to keep a mask mandate in place. Meanwhile, at the same school, a big crowd gathered to watch a basketball game and almost no one wore a mask.
Minersville is one of a few holdout schools in Schuylkill County that either still believes that masks actually work in the prevention of COVID spread or is worried about a shutdown caused by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health’s quarantine rules.
Those rules, in short, force quarantines on students who are close contacts of a COVID-positive person if they’re not wearing masks. It’s an exercise in compliance, more than anything. And it’s the reason some schools decided to keep mask mandates in place. Too many maskless students and staff that are ID’d as close contacts means too many people will have to stay home from school and that creates a whole new problem, mostly with staffing.
So, over the last few days, weeks, and months, many Schuylkill County schools have decided to drop their mask mandates. North Schuylkill, Pottsville Area and Mahanoy Area have been the latest. And those moves came as a nationwide trend of COVID-related restrictions were being dropped.
Other schools that dropped their mandate did so after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the statewide school mask mandate to be unconstitutional.
“We make data-driven decisions.”
But Minersville is hanging on to its mask mandate, at least for now.
And the school’s Superintendent Carl McBreen is doubling down on that stance. He’s even willing to throw his fellow Schuylkill County school superintendents under the bus to do so.
During this week’s meeting, McBreen confidently said, “Most of the school districts have been reacting to public pressure. There’s no data. We have data. We make data-driven decisions. We will continue to do that.”
We’re not really sure what data McBreen is referencing but we’re curious as to what data led to the decision the school made this week. No, not the mask mandate, but the other decision that made the mask mandate continuation seem pointless, at best.
While school board members were voting to maintain the mask mandate, Minersville Area was playing neutral site host to a boys’ basketball game before a packed gymnasium.
Nativity BVM was playing Shenandoah Valley in a tie-breaker boys’ basketball game, the winner (Shenandoah Valley) moving on to the Schuylkill League playoffs. And Minersville’s gym was packed for this game, literally to the rafters. Very few people wore masks.
Masks were apparently required, per the Shenandoah Valley Athletic Dept. Twitter account, but check out this video from the end of the game. You can probably count on your hands how many people are wearing a mask.
Devils win 60-57!! Division III Champions!! pic.twitter.com/X1xsgi8pTG
— SV Athletic Department (@SVBlueDevils1) February 15, 2022
Minersville’s moves this week are only the latest from local schools that make zero sense during the pandemic. For instance, as schools were debating mask mandates in the past, they were dropped for things like extra-curricular activities but still in place during school hours.
That means every student in the school could have attended something like a basketball game without a mask but would be forced to wear one during the day in class.
At this point, there’s no data that says that makes any sense whatsoever. So, it’s clear now that schools like Minersville need to drop the charade and end the mask mandate.