BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — Masks and social distancing were two of the big rules for when kids returned to in-person learning this year. Come Monday, students in the Central Bucks School District don’t need to wear their masks.
The board made that decision this week after a tense meeting. Some believe it’s time, while others feel it’s a bad idea.
“The epidemiology, the science of cases in Bucks County does not require the need for a mask mandate,” Bucks County Health Department Director Dr. David Damsker said.
Those are words many parents had been waiting to hear the Bucks County health director say for months now.
It was a contentious school board meeting. Wednesday evening, the Central Bucks Board of School Directors voted 4-3, allowing mask usage to be optional for students.
“You have aid that it is safe to return the choice to the parents. I will always choose to give parents back the choice when it comes to their health,” one parent said.
Starting Monday, masks will be optional in all school buildings, campuses and buses.
Though there was a lot of support for parents to have the option, some parents are disappointed with the board’s decision.
“Most of the kids, especially in elementary and middle school, cannot get vaccinated. It’s not an option for them right now. The CDC’s recommendation for anyone is that anybody who is not vaccinated wear a mask, especially when they’re inside in close proximity,” parent Larissa Hopwood said.
Hopwood has a 12-year-old son who attends Doyle Elementary. He received his second vaccine Thursday, but he will not be fully vaccinated by the time masks are optional for students.
“The vaccination isn’t going to kick in for any of the people who are 12 years old, between 12 and 16, for another couple of weeks. I feel like this is heartbreaking that they’re creating this situation that could really put our kids at risk,” Hopwood said.
The district will continue to follow other safety protocols like remaining a minimum of 3 feet apart and cleaning.
But those in support of the move say it’s about time.
“Children are not the protectors of adults. It’s time we step into our roles and be brave for our kids. It’s time to take the masks off of our kids now and going forward,” one parent said.