When: Ephrata Area school board meeting, Oct. 18, at Ephrata Middle School and streamed via Zoom.
What happened: Ephrata Area school board is planning to write up two resolutions, one to express their displeasure with the statewide mask mandate, and the other presenting where the board stands when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations and regulations for students.
Why it’s important: Pfizer has asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11, and the vaccine may be available for those ages in the near future.
Background: The mask mandate requiring masks to be worn in schools has been heavily discussed at previous Ephrata school board meetings. More recently, several residents brought up their concerns if COVID-19 vaccines would become the next mandate for students to attend school in person.
Board discussion: Board member Tim Stauffer suggested the board take a stand on possible COVID-19 vaccine requirements, to which several board members showed interest. “I would be in favor of doing two separate resolutions, and doing it before any vaccine regulations come out,” board member Trisha Good said. There were about 15 residents in the audience, and many applauded when the board discussed the topic. Two community members spoke during public comments, both of them against the mask mandate.
Quotable: “If we wanted to make a statement to those in government above us, those who make and pass laws, and then those who are exerting their authority in ways that are unfavorable to us, this could be a way to do it,” said board President Richard Gehman, speaking of the mask mandate and the possibility of having a resolution showing where the board stands on vaccine mandates.
What’s next: Board member Timothy Stayer was tasked with writing up the two drafts, both of which will be finalized before the next committee of the whole meeting, Nov. 1.
School renovations: Progress in the middle school and high school construction project is moving forward, and the board approved two change orders. The change orders include general contractor Lobar Inc. for several high school renovation projects such as filling a sinkhole, excavating a trench rock, changing glazing on doors and more, totaling $25,166. The other change order is a $10,730 credit for Hirneisen Electric Inc.