Members of the public at the February 22 Nazareth School Board meeting largely voiced opinions in opposition to board members attending meetings virtually when they don’t have extenuating circumstances. Jennifer Simon, a parent from Bushkill Township, said that she believes the members should be required to be in person. Simon said that she believes face-to-face is more effective, encourages community engagement and that meetings over the Zoom platform feel like being “talked at, not with.”
The board members themselves largely disagreed with the policy including the words “extraordinary circumstances” because they can be open to interpretation. Vice President Melissa Kalinoski said that she supports Zoom access.
“It is a great opportunity and option to have in case it is needed,” she said.
Board President Gregory Leh also supports using Zoom with the caveat that “extraordinary” is not well-defined. He said they could make a motion to remove the verbiage from the policy. Board member Linda Stubits said that she feels they have an obligation to be there and that they answer to the public. It was noted that in 18 years they only had one meeting that they were unable to reach a quorum to conduct business. Ultimately, a motion was made, and a vote unanimously passed to remove the contested language from the Zoom policy.
Board member Wayne Simpson then made a motion to amend the agenda to discuss the health and safety plan in the district. Stubits seconded the motion and it unanimously passed. Stubits then made a motion to amend the health and safety program proposal by adding option C. This option says a close-contact student can return to school if asymptomatic, is vaccinated, tests negative or has had Covid-19 in the last 90 days. Option C includes no contact tracing but still requires reporting to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
“We don’t do anything for some of these diseases that are as communicable or as harmful [as Covid-19] to people’s health such as meningitis, strep, MRSA, etc.,” Stubits said.
Members of the public mostly supported removing all quarantine, mask mandates and references to vaccinations in the health and safety plan.
“Quarantine is isolating the sick, tyranny is isolating the healthy,” James Cunningham, a resident and parent, said.
The motion for option C passed six to three with board treasurer Kenneth Butz and board members Adam McGlynn and Joseph Vasko voting no.
The next meeting of the Nazareth Area School Board will be at 7 p.m. on March 8.