Kanawha parents raise concerns over mask mandate for upcoming school year


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Time was running out Thursday for Kanawha County parents to weigh in on how the school board should spend millions of dollars in federal relief money, but they had another issue in mind.

As Friday’s 4 p.m. deadline approached, parents at Thursday’s Kanawha County Board of Education meeting were more interested in addressing the mask mandate for the upcoming school year.

West Virginia’s public schools will receive $762,000,000 through the American Rescue Plan when it’s all said and done.

Back in March, the state received $507,611,952 from the U.S. Department of Education.

The second round approved on Thursday was $254,348,143.

The Kanawha County School District’s share of this last allocation is $82,000,000.

“They’ve already given us 25% of the money, they had to do that right away according to the federal guidelines, then we have to show them what we’ll spend it on to make sure we’re following the guidelines,” said Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Williams.

Williams says they haven’t received many comments from parents as the deadline for the online survey nears.

“My daughters were getting sores around their mouth,” said one woman who took the podium that evening to ask the board to not require masks.

The current mask mandate requires unvaccinated students, and children under the age of 12 to wear a mask.

“At this point, the Governor has lifted the mask mandate — if they do research, kids ages 10 to 14 only account for 10% of the infectious rate, and their symptoms are so mild,” said Tiffany Steele.

Steele has two daughters in Kanawha County schools who are under the age of 12 and therefore too young to be vaccinated.

“All the teachers if they have chosen have already been vaccinated so I don’t see at this point why the masks are mandatory,” she said.

Petra Monroe was another mother who said to the school board she doesn’t want her 16-year -old unvaccinated daughter to have to wear one.

“She came home every day last year with a splitting headache from the mask,” she said.
Monroe says she thinks masks do more harm than good.

“What those people found out is that masks gather bacteria, it’s a moist environment with your breath in there and the bacteria grows exponentially in three minutes,” she said.

Williams says they haven’t made a decision yet regarding masks for the upcoming school year so he couldn’t give the mothers an answer.

“We’ve been in touch with the health department, we’re waiting to hear back, as you know Dr. Young is leaving so it’s sort of in flux at the moment and we’re waiting to hear when we can get an appointment one day next week and we’ll sit down and talk to them and make some decisions after that,” he said to 13 News.

The deadline to submit comments online to the school board about the American Rescue Plan funds is Friday at 4 p.m.

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