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Parents and board blast Quakertown school administration’s mask policies


Parents and the school board president blasted Quakertown School District’s aggressive measures to ensure compliance with Gov. Tom Wolf’s statewide mask mandate.
Following the mandate, district officials ordered school administrators to segregate students who did not have a form filled out exempting them from wearing a mask. Those students were placed in separate rooms, parked in front of computers, marked absent and excluded from lunch and recess.
“Maybe our school district should worry about educating our children instead of shaming them, alienating them by putting them in a room away from their teachers and friends like they have a disease,” thundered parent Kerry McBride, who ignored requests to mask her children. “You are scarring and scaring our children,” she continued.
Parent Madelyn Stephan claimed that maskless students were told that if they went to a classroom their teachers would stop teaching, and that athletes were prevented from playing football unless they masked up.
Board President Kaylyn Mitchell added she found it disturbing and shameful that students were segregated and left without any work. “We would never have done that last year, and we shouldn’t this year.”

District Superintendent William Harner and Assistant Superintendent Nancianne Edwards offered no apology or explanation for what transpired in the schools. The two took the brunt of public attacks, with threats to sue and cries of “Resign! Resign!” punctuating the five-hour-plus meeting.
Unlike other districts’ forms, which required a parent’s signature, Quakertown’s was more cumbersome, requiring school staff to convene to consider the exemption if a student was on an accommodation plan or had an individualized education plan, or triggering an accommodation evaluation if a regular education student requested an exemption.
Later in the meeting, board members voted to amend the exemption form that will now require a parent signature with a valid reason for noncompliance. The mask exemption will not apply to buses.
The board also voted to require parents who report a COVID case to get verifiable COVID test from a medical professional. The district will only use verifiable cases in their case counts and won’t disclose self-reported cases to the community. Administrators were encouraged to track self-reported cases internally to see if there were discrepancies.