Clifton BOE Votes to Make In-School Masks Optional on March 7th
The Clifton Board of Education meeting was held Thursday, February 10th in person at the Clifton Highschool Media Center. All 9 commissioners were in attendance. The meeting order was changed, public comments were moved up to allow members of the public to speak before an anticipated lengthy executive session.
During new business Commissioner Daley read and submitted a proposal to the Board detailing how the Board can move forward, given the heightened personal conflict among several members. He explained it is the duty of the Board to work in service of the greater community and district and the behavior over recent months has been an embarrassment. He proposed steps the Board can take to move forward to meet it's obligation including: all BOE members should withdraw ethics complaints against each other, commissioners should refrain from personal complaints against other Board members during meetings, members should handle personal issues with other members in private and when conflicts cannot be resolved a mediator should be appointed.
Commissioner Canova begins his remarks by saying he supports the Governor's recent removal of the in-school mask mandate on March 7th. He said the Board discussed many details, including the emotional state of the students and the downward ticking of cases. He makes a motion in support of Dr. Robertozzi's suggestion to remove the mask mandate and make mask wearing optional on March 7th. The motion is seconded by Commissioner Daley.
The Board discusses the nuances and implications of students removing masks in school. Commissioner Bassford expresses concern that there should be respect given to anyone who chooses to continue wearing a mask, no bullying should be tolerated. She adds that if the masks are being removed, the partitions on desks should be also. Dr. Robertozzi states he had planned to remove them before March 7th. The motion is amended to include removing the partitions by March 7th.
Commissioner Paris points out the practical considerations that need to be considered, including what parameters will be set to determine if masks are again required and how will this affect contact tracing. Dr. Robertozzi explains that they have been told contact tracing will be ending soon as well, and he anticipates formal guidance will be announced soon.
A debate ensues over waiting until the March 3rd meeting to vote, Commissioner Abedrabbo explains they could wait for the additional guidance and not risk having to back track. The debate is briefly interrupted as the meeting has run past midnight and needs to be formally reopened. The motion to end the in-school mask mandate and remove desk partitions is then passed, mask wearing in Clifton schools will be optional beginning March 7th.
The next Board of Education meeting is March 3rd.