Gibraltar School Board Stands By Optional Masking Decision

A virtual-learning option will be available starting in January through the 20th

The Gibraltar School Board held a special meeting Thursday night to reconsider a decision from three nights earlier that eased mask mandates for students. But in a 4-1 vote after more than 90 minutes of public discussion, the board stood by its decision.

As a result of the Dec. 16 reinforcement of the Dec. 13 decision, the district remains on course to make facial coverings optional for junior high and high school students beginning Dec. 20 with parental permission, and on course to allow students in kindergarten through sixth grade to unmask starting Jan. 3, with parental permission. 

The parental permission component, as confirmed by board president Stephen Seyfer Thursday night, requires district administrators to gather permission slips from parents who do not want their children to wear masks.

The board held the special meeting to reconsider the action because Seyfer had received requests to do so. Requests had also been made for the board to consider allowing remote learning for children of parents who did not feel comfortable sending their child to school when masking becomes optional. 

During the Dec. 16 discussion, the board discussed at length the dates by which it would end mandatory masking. School Board member Angela Sherman, who again cast the dissenting vote for optional masking, again advocated a date later in January that would allow all students to receive a complete vaccination. Door County Medical Center began offering vaccinations to the younger group in early November, but Sherman made the point that not all parents were able to get appointments that month, pushing the full vaccination date out until late January. 

But Seyfer said the board could not amend or change the mask-mandate-easing motion it approved on Dec. 13. The agenda only said the board would “reconsider” the motion it approved, which meant it could only stand by its motion or abandon it and continue mandatory masking-for-all.

Sherman tried to convince the board to extend a virtual-learning option until the end of the school year under certain conditions. Instead, the board agreed to provide remote education in January through the 20th for children in K-6 who had not completed their full vaccination.