Raucous Hamilton school board meeting includes parents arguing against mandatory mask policy

An at times loud crowd of dozens of Hamilton school parents attended the city schools' governing board meeting Thursday evening, with some sharply criticizing the district's recent mandatory mask orders. Among them was school parent Samantha Gaston, who told the board to "unmask our children." (Photo By Michael D. Clark\Journal-News)
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An at times loud crowd of dozens of Hamilton school parents attended the city schools' governing board meeting Thursday evening, with some sharply criticizing the district's recent mandatory mask orders. Among them was school parent Samantha Gaston, who told the board to "unmask our children." (Photo By Michael D. Clark\Journal-News)

Some Hamilton school parents told the city schools’ governing board Thursday evening they objected to the district’s recent mandatory mask policy for their children.

The sometimes raucous audience of about 50 prompted the board president to admonish some.

Following a presentation by Superintendent Mike Holbrook on the impact of the board’s ordering earlier this month all students and school staffers to be masked while in school buildings, a series of speakers – nine opposing masks and two favoring – filled the 30-minute public comment section of the meeting.

School parent Jennifer Mason told the board ordering the district’s 10,000 students to wear masks was excessive and an overstep of members’ power.

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For children, said Mason, “the virus has a very, very low mortality rate” and “Covid is completely recoverable for children.”

Fellow school parent Samantha Gaston, told the board “your policy is a mistake and I implore you to reverse it and unmask our children.”

But Holbrook earlier told the board when it approved mandatory masks in an emergency board meeting in early September – with no public participants present during the rare, early morning meeting time – the district had 903 students out of classes due to quarantines and 81 students testing positive for the virus.

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At that time, the district had a policy where masks for students were strongly recommended.

But as of 10 a.m. Thursday, he said, the district had lowered its quarantine number of students to 210 and those testing positive to 42.

“What we are doing seems to be working. More students are in school today than when we started this (mandatory masks),” said Holbrook.