Yesterday, the Park City Schol Board met in regular session. As usual, there was a period of open comment. Yesterday’s open comment was centered on concerned parents about the handling of the PPES mask mandate and people in support of the school board. It was an interesting exchange between the School Board, parents, and board supporters.
I won’t rehash the arguments, as most of those, in both directions, were covered in the Park Rag Comments section on our previous story. I’ll also post a link to the meeting below, in case you want to “watch” for yourself.
However, here are some random observations from the meeting:
- There was an opening statement on the topic from the school board. It was, “We think it is important to acknowledge that there have been some questions related to the public health order at Parley’s Park and the school’s initial response. While we acknowledge this and we are conducting a review of the process, we have been advised that we not make further public comment on the matter. Please rest assured that we will continue to work closely with the state, county, and health department as we continue to prioritize the health and safety in open schools.”
- Brad Asay, President of the Utah American Federation of Teachers Utah, brought up the teachers’ angle on this. He spoke about the transparency and processes of the district during Covid and how that has impacted teacher safety. I had been thinking about the kids but teacher impact is a good point.
- School Board member Andrew Caplan responded to Mr. Asay, “The notion that is been in the public and reported on that we are not in compliance with the state, county health codes is incorrect and that is a fact and that fact is backed up by the four inspections done by the county health department. So, anyone who believes that we were in violation of the county mask mandate or there was anything around that, that is simply not factually correct. I just want to clarify that. The popular narrative right now… we have received a number of emails upset with that notion, and rightfully so, had we been in violation, had we not been following the county rules, people have the right to be upset. But to imply that it is an unsafe work environment or to imply that we were not following county/state codes is simply not correct. I’m sorry you had incorrect information.”
- The problem with Mr Caplan’s statement is the timeline and perhaps the parsing of words. Is the school district in compliance with the health order today? I would sure hope so. Were they on November 5th when the health department arrived on the scene, after KPCW called them out? I would sure hope so. The real question is whether they were in compliance during the first week of the mask mandate and whether the school district’s actions contributed to lack of safety. If measures weren’t in place day one, it would be like a restaurant that kept chicken at 50 degrees, food-poisoned some customers, heard the health department was coming, and made sure the chicken was then cold enough. Then when the restaurant manager was questioned they used the excuse that they meant to tell the kitchen staff that chicken should be at 36 degrees but it may have been misinterpreted. In the real world, regardless of that excuse, the restaurant is still getting shut down. Maybe PPES was in compliance on day one, but from everything I have read it wasn’t. Until this KPCW article is refuted in detail, the school district has a problem.
- There seems to be some discussion over the communication of what a mask mandate is. I know when you are running an organization like the school district, things get complicated. However, to an average person like me, if someone asked me what a mask mandate in a school was, I would know. “Everyone wears a mask over their nose and mouth.” That’s not hard from a layperson’s perspective. The school board would likely ask, “what are you going to do about the exceptions?” I would then turn to the actual law. I’m not a lawyer but I can read. It took me almost 3 minutes to Google and find section 4 of the Health Order where the lawyers have specifically stated the exceptions. Strangely enough I don’t find any references to parent-related exceptions.
- School Board President Erin Grady said that she has been to all schools in the last few days to make sure they are ready for a mask mandate. I appreciate that, I really do given the circumstances. However, it’s almost Thanksgiving. The time to do that was before Labor Day and it probably really isn’t her job.
- I really appreciated that the school board would allow people to speak a little bit over their 3 minutes of allotted time. It allowed people to finish their thoughts.
- I thought having two police officers there was a little over the top. I remember a sheriff deputy being at a County Council meeting once, but that was due to a specific threat. Maybe this is normal for schools, but it seemed a little weird. I do have to say the nice officer did help my 7-year old find the bathroom.
- Here is the link to the meeting
- So, if you’re like me, the craziest thing with the meeting link is that it is on Youtube. As you start to watch, you’ll see video. You’ll see school board members speaking amongst themselves. Then, as the official meeting starts, they cut off the video. We are left with audio only on Youtube. It’s not because they don’t have the equipment to do video. It seems it’s because they don’t want to be ON video. It makes it hard follow which board member is saying what. Stepping back to 30,000 feet, this is a metaphor for the transparency people are seeking from our school district.