Like other local school districts, Palisades in Upper Bucks has been experiencing mixed reactions to the school mask mandate.
The school board closed a disruptive meeting Wednesday evening after some parents refused to wear masks. The meeting was held at Palisades Middle School following a ceremony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
District Superintendent Bridget O’Connell sent a message to the community Thursday evening explaining the board’s recess.
“Due to the number of people that attended the meeting maskless, the meeting was called into recess and was set to reconvene virtually at 8 p.m.,” Dr. O’Connell said. “When the meeting reconvened, a motion was called to adjourn and the meeting ended.”
She explained that meeting was recesses because of an order by the state Department of Health, which “sets forth that a school entity must require and enforce the requirements that all teachers, children/students, staff, and visitors wear a face covering indoors regardless of whether the order is reflected in a school entity’s Health and Safety Plan.”
The board warned the audience of what would occur if the group did not put on masks. After several requests, O’Connell said, “a motion was called and voted upon to recess the meeting virtually.” The Board, whose members were also required to wear masks, was not able to enforce the order in the face to face setting.
“When the board recessed the meeting and explained the meeting would move into a virtual setting (like all of last year), dozens of community members remained unmasked in the PALMS auditorium,” the superintendent said. “Again, the board is required to enforce the order and with members of the public refusing to leave and remaining unmasked, the board adjourned the meeting so people would leave district property.”
O’Connell continued, “The order specifies that each teacher, child/student, staff or visitor working, attending or visiting a school entity shall wear a face covering indoors, regardless of vaccine status. This order does not place requirements when teachers, child/students, staff or visitors are outside, nor does it require face coverings in locations other than school buildings and on school buses.”
Students returned to classrooms on Friday.
A Bucks County Herald story printed in the Sept. 15 issue, page 1, was a report on the Sept. 9 meeting. The weekly Herald is sent for printing every Wednesday around 4 p.m., before the 7 p.m. school board meeting started.