A Path to Unmasking

Board meeting done, 6 – 9:30. Oof. It would be easier to have these be shorter if there wasn’t so much important material to go through….ah well.

Two important items from today’s meeting — and I am speaking just for myself here, not for the board:

1) We are currently staying the course on COVID mitigations at the high school, to be revisited next at the March 10th meeting. That includes continuing to mask inside the building.

I’m in favor of this decision — I think it’s too soon to be dropping the mask mandate in our extremely crowded high school of 5000 students, esp. while transmission rates are still high locally, and we have not yet met local hospital capacity recommendations for reducing mitigations.

Soon, folks, I promise. I am thoroughly sick of masks too. Hang in there a few more weeks — it’s going to get a lot warmer, transmission rates will drop, the under-5 vaccine should be approved in April, fingers crossed. We’re on the path to unmasking — let’s not jump the gun right at the end of this long course, please.

When we do drop the mandate, I am fairly sure we will still be ‘strongly recommending’ students continue to wear masks in the building for some time after that.

2) We have chosen not to take the roughly $800,000 additional in property taxes made legally available to us via a new law designed to let school districts recapture funds lost through the property tax appeal process. That’s something school boards will be voting on every year going forward; for this year, we’re abating that, which means we don’t take it from the community.

Once we spend down OPRF’s currently large fund balance to a much lower level, which will happen over the course of project 2 renovations (which will take multiple years to fully implement, once they’re planned, bid out, and approved), future boards may make different decisions on the abatement question, year-to-year.

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