To The Daily Sun,
Tonight at 6:30 p.m., the registered voters of Moultonborough will have the opportunity to participate in a special school district meeting at the Moultonborough Academy auditorium. The petitioners who have asked for this meeting disagree with the reopening plan which requires the wearing of masks indoors during times of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.
I am no great fan of masks; I find them annoying and mostly uncomfortable. We have information though from the likes of Tufts University Medical, Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, etc. that support the use of masks in our schools under current conditions. However, I still tend to trust those experts closest to our own situation. These are the very people we would all be rushing to with our children if they fell seriously ill because we trust their expertise and judgement. It is odd to me we then think these same folks have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to masks or vaccines. A recent WMUR article related, “The refrain from local hospital workers is the same: Get vaccinated, socially distance, wash your hands and wear a mask. Health officials said they are as tired of the pandemic as everyone else, but they need the community's help.”
Then there is the concept that a school mask requirement is a matter of personal freedom or parental choice. In our society we have determined that a public education through the 12th grade is so important that it is compulsory by law. It is expected that those local school districts provide a safe environment for the staff and students in those buildings. So, there is the — does a parent’s right to “individual choice” supersede another parent’s right to send their child into a required setting in as safe a manner as practical? My view is that we as elected stewards of our local schools have an obligation to follow the best information available to make decisions for the greatest good of our school population. I know firsthand my fellow board members take this responsibility very seriously. In this case, we have concluded that keeping our students in school with their teachers and peers is paramount and that masks, while not perfect, nevertheless are a tool that helps us meet that goal.
There is legal precedent that even if a petitioned warrant article of this type were to pass, it would be advisory only and not binding upon the board. School attorney Jim O’Shaughnessy was recently quoted as saying, “People are really looking for solutions and for ways to push back against school boards and they've fallen upon this provision through the law. I think they mistakenly believe it's a solution, and it's not.” If you feel your board members are not serving you in a manner you see fit, the place to fix that is the ballot box in March. Regardless of your thoughts on the masks, I encourage voters to attend tonight's meeting and vote NO on Article 1.
Jonathan W. Tolman
Moultonborough School Board