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Spring Hill Schools address parent concerns over mask policy change

Spring Hill School District
Posted at 6:38 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 20:06:42-04

SPRING HILL, Kan. — The Spring Hill School District is responding to concerns from parents over its modified mask policy regarding exemptions.

On Monday, the district's Board of Education voted to change the policy to allow parents and legal guardians to sign off on mask exemptions for students.

The original policy only allowed medical professionals to sign off on the form, which exempts students "with a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering" from wearing a mask.

The move upset some parents, such as Heather Hardman and Nick Filla. Both have children in the district who are too young to be vaccinated.

"They are completely losing sight of the idea of community is taking care of your whole community," Hardman said.

Hardman's 8-year-old son has asthma, which she said isn't an extreme case, but she still worries about him being around unmasked children at school.

"I’m counting the days until they come out with the kid's vaccine," Hardman said. "I will feel better, but until then we really have them in the deep end of the pond and not able to swim very well."

Hardman said she believes the modification to the policy opens up an avenue for parents to be dishonest about exemptions. Both Hardman and Filla said they've seen comments on social media from parents planning to lie on the forms.

"People are like oh you should put allergies or put mental health, they are not going to question it, which really belittles all of the people that truly have medical and mental health issues with their kids wearing a mask," Hardman said.

When asked about the concern, Greg Goheen, general legal counsel to the district, said the district does not believe its parents would lie on the forms.

"You have to honor and respect the ability of parents to tell the truth and look out for their kids," Goheen said.

When asked about any type of verification process, Goheen said as long as exemptions fall in line with the county's order they will be accepted.

"The parents are in the best situation to speak to what the mental health of their child is, what the physical condition of their child is," Goheen said.

Filla said he's disappointed in the board's decision.

"I think that's belittling to the people who actually need those medical exemptions, the whole point of this is to keep everybody safe, it's not to control anybody," Filla said.

Filla and Hardman said they'd like to see the board reverse its decision and only allow medical professionals to sign off on the forms.

The board will hear public comments about the issue at Monday's upcoming meeting and will vote whether or not to adopt the resolution.