Fort Frye Gets Comments on Mask Mandate | News, Sports, Jobs
BEVERLY – On Monday, a parent in the local Fort Frye school district officially requested that their child not be required to wear a mask on the basis of religion.
Parents, teachers and even principals came to the education council meeting to express their opinions on the mask’s recent tenure in the district. The mandate states that the masks will be worn at all times by teachers, staff, students and visitors, except when they are outside and when eating.
Parent Jimmy Heldman spoke for 15 minutes about his rights and how he believes the government is violating those rights and his religion based on the mask’s mandate in the school district. Heldman found it difficult not to receive a religious exemption for his children. He explained that his religious beliefs are against face covering.
“No government can force or coerce a person to define the parameters of his faith, and no member of the government has the right to determine the legitimacy of that faith” Heldman said.
Last year, during the mask’s tenure, Heldman and his wife completed a two-page document describing their faith. He said the school recognized their faith, but couldn’t let his children come to school without covering their faces. The virtual school outside of Nashville was offered as a replacement instead of going to school in person.
Heldman read Sections 201 and 202 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and part of the First Amendment free exercise clause. In her opinion, her children should be granted an exemption from wearing masks because of the family’s religious beliefs.
Heldman read an email he received from the school that explained that the district would consider certain exemptions from its new mask policy, but has no legal obligation to do so.
A representative from Lawful America, a human rights group based on the Constitution and various human rights laws, was present at the meeting to serve notice on demand on the school board, stating that they are in violation of their oath to respect, protect and defend the rights accorded to the people of the United States. Lawful America has already served seven school boards and plans to serve school boards across the United States, the attorney said.
Fort Frye director Andy Schob thanked board members for making tough decisions, such as being required to wear masks. Schob said he wanted the opportunity to do whatever he could to keep the children in school.
“No one wants to hide in the long run; we think masks right now are the right thing for our children ”, he said.
Superintendent Stephanie Starcher explained her thoughts on the mask’s mandate. She said she had seen an increase in absences that was three times what she would normally be. She also said she was monitoring the number of quarantine cases and positive cases were starting to double.
“I spoke to the administration and let the board know that we were going to hide in order to stop the spread…”, Starcher said. “So today, for example, with the cases we’ve had positive, we can account for 117 students who weren’t quarantined, who probably wouldn’t have been masked.”
According to guidelines from the Ohio Department of Health, students do not have to self-quarantine if they were wearing masks while in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and did not present no symptoms.