During the January 11 meeting of the Nazareth School Board, Superintendent Dr. Dennis Riker took responsibility for recent decisions regarding Covid-19 precautions in the district. Dr. Riker began his report by outlining the history of his leadership during the pandemic, saying that he always believed that masks should be optional, and that people seem to forget that. He said that his critics don’t appreciate the position he is in as superintendent. Dr. Riker said that he plans to disclose all the harassing e-mails he has received after he is retired.
“I am a commissioned officer of the state, and my employment is based on that commission. It is really easy to call me a coward,” Dr. Riker said.
He then showed two slides. The first, provided by St. Luke’s Hospital, depicted the spike in Covid-19 cases in the county the prior week. The second illustrated the rising positive cases in the school district. Dr. Riker said that while most schools are in the tier-two level of the health and safety plan requiring masking for staff and students for five days, the high school is currently one case short of going virtual. He said that his goal is always to avoid going to a virtual environment for instruction. Considering that goal, Dr. Riker took full responsibility for the decision to mandate masks the week of January 3. While it isn’t clearly outlined in the text of the health and safety plan released over the summer, he believed it was within his authority to do so.
“The school system is not failing our children, the healthcare system is failing our children,” Dr. Riker said.
Other than Covid-related issues, the superintendent’s report included a video presentation about “Sleighride to Mayfield,” a convoy of donated items and money that the Nazareth community sent to a Tornado-ravaged area of Kentucky.
“Everyone came together for a community in need. That’s what Nazareth needs to get back to. We were able to come together, put differences aside, and make a positive impact,” Dr. Riker said.
A representative from student government, Lauren Tauber, reported to the board that their Hot Chocolate Bomb sale was a success and that they are currently organizing a carnival day. She gave a shout out to the High School Varsity Cheer Team who has won Districts in back-to-back competitions.
The next Nazareth School Board meeting will be held Tuesday, January 25 at 7 p.m.