Tag Archives: covid

School Board Meeting Unmasks a Divided Community Over The Governor’s Face-Covering Mandate

By Shana Carey

Co Editor-in-Chief, Marketing and Opinions Editor

The new mask mandate sparked a heated Red Lion School Board meeting on Thursday night. An order from the Department of Health released Tuesday requires face covering for all students, teachers, staff and visitors in school buildings.

Hundreds of residents attended the meeting in the high school auditorium or viewed the meeting over a video call.  Police officers were present to help maintain order. 

In a prepared statement, legal counsel for the district Margaret Driscol said that the district will comply with the order, and that following the law is not something that district officials can pick and choose, according to preference. 

“The board and the superintendent are required to uphold and defend the laws…whether or not they agree with any particular order or regulation,” Driscol said.

“The district intends to comply and enforce the order,” Driscol said,  “Unless and until a court of law determines the order is not valid or the legislature passes legislation that negates the order.”

The order comes less than a month after Governor Wolf placed the decision for mask wearing in the hands of local officials.

The school board heard from around fifty residents last night on both sides of the masking issue.

High school junior Sophie Beard, joining the meeting by video from her residence via Zoom, said she was glad that the district was implementing it. A student athlete, Beard said some of her teammates are already missing games due to COVID-19-related restrictions.

“I don’t feel we should have  to wait until we have students who are getting sick and are being removed from school until we decide to make that decision to have everyone wear masks,” Beard said. “Now that this mandate is up, I will wear a mask because I feel that is what is best for me, my family and my peers.”

Felton resident Jess Waltersdorff joined the meeting from Zoom and identified herself as a healthcare worker.  She supports the mask mandate, saying she has held iPads for patients while family members watch them take their final breaths.  

“I have seen first hand what  COVID-19 can do to families,” Waltersdorff said.

The Red Lion school board and filled audience listen to eighth grade Emily Heiland speak about how she will not wear a mask regardless of the board’s decision.

While some spoke out supporting the board, the auditorium erupted with outbursts and many citizens disgruntled with the mask wearing mandate spoke to the board in person. 

“I will go to school every day without a mask on,” eighth grader Emily Heiland said, “I will accept the mask you put in my hands, but I will not wear it.” 

Heiland, a member of the Junior High Volleyball Team, said that she felt discriminated against by her classmates last year for not wearing a mask at all times. 

She was initially excited to hear that Red Lion was not requiring masks for the 2021-2022 school year, but the mask mandate will take effect Tuesday, Sept. 7.

 “I will not comply,” Heiland said, to an uproar of applause. 

Heiland said that the board will not see her walking around school with a mask on because her education is important, and she does not support virtual learning. Heiland also said that it should be her choice to wear the mask because the school board has no right to her body. 

After the initial public comments, School Resource Officer and school board member Marc Greenly left his chair at the board table.

 “We can do something,” Greenly said. “Many things were laws in the past that weren’t just at the time, and it took one person, one board, to stand up to. Why can’t that be us?”

Zoom call attendees could not hear Officer Greenly’s statement or the applause following it, nor see the standing ovation in the crowded auditorium. 

The in-person school board meeting attendees give Officer Greenly a standing ovation after he encouraged the board to go against Governor Wolf’s order.

Several parents asked what the consequences would be for students not wearing a mask. School Board President Mrs. Crone said that disciplinary actions are up to the principal of each building. 

 “We cannot do anything by force, but there will be disciplinary action,” Crone said.

Seniors Organize Romp in the Boondocks as a Makeshift Prom

Shana Carey

Opinions Editor and Marketing Editor

“Cancelled due to COVID” is a phrase not so uncommon to hear nowadays. The senior class of 2021 experienced this first hand when administration officially cancelled prom. 

“Basically, we’ve known all year that if things didn’t change,” Executive Council Adviser Mrs. Rachel Curry said, “traditional prom wasn’t an option.” 

The Senior Executive Council originally also planned a class trip to Washington, D.C.. Since the museums and National Zoo are closed, school officials also cancelled this trip. 

“I was cautiously optimistic that it wouldn’t happen, but we kind of knew it (senior activities) was ending,” Mrs. Curry said, “That’s completely out of our control.”

Principal Mr. Mark Shue said that Red Lion is following all guidelines put out by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and are allowed to have some after school events but not prom out of concern that gatherings could be a super-spreader events for COVID-19 that “Goal number one is to keep school open,” Mr. Shue said. 

The Executive Council’s work raising money the past four years will not go to waste, however.

 “There’s a survey out there that we’re waiting for results on about whether they want an after school activity,” Mrs. Curry said. 

If the survey indicates that over half the senior class wants this event, Executive Council plans to move forward with the idea. This would be an after-school outdoor activity including food-trucks and yard games. 

“We are waiting to see if anyone is interested in it,” Mrs. Curry said. “It will be something similar to what happened with homecoming.”

Mr. Shue says that there has not been much interest in this event from the Google Form Mrs. Curry sent to the senior class. 

If this end of year senior celebration does not occur, Executive Council will purchase a gift for each senior. “I would like to have the gift be something that would be meaningful to the students,” Mrs. Curry said. 

To celebrate their graduation, many seniors are attempting to have somewhat normal end of year celebrations in lieu of the prom. A group of seniors organized a makeshift prom called Romp on the Boondocks, a non-school sanctioned event and anagram for prom. 

“It has been a very dim year for everyone,” Executive Council member and makeshift prom organizer Madison Daugherty said. “So, we decided to plan our own.”

The cancellation of prom came as a surprise to Thea Hennessy. “I was kind of excited for maybe an outdoor kind of thing, like they were talking about,” Hennessy said. “So it kind of blowed that they did cancel it, but I understand why of course.”

However, many students anticipated that administration would cancel prom. “I was disappointed,” Braden Reese de Leon said. “But it was expected.”

“It is a large venue with lots of outdoor space so we can spread out,” Daugherty said. “It also allows us to include other things that you usually would not have at prom, like a bonfire.” 

The large outdoor venue also encourages social distancing and air ventilation. Adult chaperones will enforce COVID-19 precautions such as mask wearing and social distancing.            All students attending must present a COVID-19 waiver in order to be allowed into Romp. 

 “We do want this to be a safe event,” Daugherty said. “We will have additional precautions set in place such as temperature checks and plenty of hand sanitizer.”

Many students are still concerned about the COVID-19 precautions at Romp. “I definitely am really scared about that,” attendee Hennessy said.  “I don’t think it’s going to be 100% safe.” 

Romp’s planners set the date for May 22, so many are concerned about a potential COVID-19 outbreak before graduation. 

“I hope that everybody’s really careful and thoughtful because, if it happens close enough to graduation and there’s any sort of COVID spread,” Mrs. Curry said, “there will be students in quarantine or school will be shut down before graduation.”

Daugherty told The Leonid that Romp will follow all of the governor’s mandates. Since COVID-19 is highly contagious, the seniors planning Romp are aware that many students will not attend in order to reduce their exposure to the virus. 

“We get it. Prom is not everyone’s cup of tea,” Daugherty said. “We are expecting upwards of 100 students or so. But we would love to have way more than that.”

Thea Hennessy, who is planning to attend Romp in the Boondocks, is apprehensive about contracting COVID-19.

 “Honestly, that’s why I’m really on the fence about going,” Hennesy said. “On the one hand, I want to have a good time with my senior year but on the other hand, I definitely want to be safe.”

Braden Reese de Leon does not plan to attend Romp, but she says, “I think it’ll be fine as long as they take those precautions.”

In order to raise money for Romp, Madison Daugherty and Madisson Shellenberger organized a fundraiser on GoFundMe. This money helps cover the cost of the venue, DJ, food, and decor. 

“Our vision for this event is more lowkey and relaxed, so there is no formal ticket process,” Daugherty said. “Any of our council members will be more than accommodating to get a ticket to any senior who reaches out.”

Romp is more casual because it is planned by students rather than the Executive Council. “It is not a school-sanctioned event,” Daugherty said, “so it is 100% student-planned.” 

Many people are concerned about the behavior of attendees to Romp. “I feel like they’d be just much more reckless because it’s not associated with the school,”  de Leon said. 

Members of the community will chaperone the event. “Though this is not school sanctioned, we expect behavior as if it were,” Daugherty said. “We expect nothing less than respectful behavior.

“Our biggest motivation for planning this event,” Daugherty said, ”is to give our seniors a sense of normalcy before going off to college or into the workforce.” 

Hennessy intends to go to Romp with a small group of friends before graduating. On the other hand, de Leon will not attend Romp because she wants to have a small get together rather than a large party. 

“I don’t want to go because I feel like my friends probably wouldn’t go either,” de Leon said, “and I’d rather have a small gathering of friends than try to have a makeshift prom outside of school.” 

“Our goal is to host one last hoorah before saying goodbye to our classmates,” Daugherty said. 

Administration fears a potential outbreak from Romp in the Boondocks. “We do not support a large gathering of students that could potentially lead to a COVID outbreak that could close the High School,” Mr. Shue said, “Please think before you act.”