I often tell listeners that we sometimes don’t celebrate victories or we complain that the victory is not good enough. I talked about this on my radio show this week in the wake of two highly regarded Bucks County school districts dropping their mask requirements for students and staff while at school. Last week the Central Bucks School District School Board in a 4 to 3 vote decided to make masks optional for the last week of the school year. The next day the Council Rock School Board by a 7 to 1 vote decided to immediately make masks optional in their schools.
These votes are remarkable. As the Delaware Valley Journal reported in February, the local parents’ group Keeping Kids in School PAC through a “Right to Know” request clarified that at the beginning of this current school year Central Bucks Superintendent John Kopicki acceded to the Central Bucks Education Association’s threats of teacher resignations or leave requests to go from a plan of in-person instruction to only online instruction. So, it is truly remarkable given the power of the union. The board seemed to make this decision because of parental pressure to make masks optional in school but also because Bucks County Public Health Director Dr. David Damsker told the board he did not think a mask mandate needed to continue due to the low levels of Covid-19 cases both in the community and in schools.
I have interviewed and touted Dr. Damsker on my show for his ability to offer scientific guidance that greatly helped to open up Bucks County. In fact, Patch.com/Newtown-pa, noted that in the case of Council Rock, Board Solicitor Robert Cox said the decision to make masks optional became lawful when Damsker made his public remarks at the Central Bucks School Board meeting. These decisions around masking are courageous because they go against the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
So, if these Bucks County schools can unmask, what is happening with the rest of the Philadelphia area? Philadelphia public schools have already said they will require masking in the next school year. I attribute this to the incompetency of the district and the fact that there does not seem to be tremendous parental pressure to have kids return to school mask-free.
What about Montgomery County? It is at the top end for affluent and educated citizens in the state. However, major decisions are dominated by the almost cult-like following of Commissioner Valerie Arkoosh, who is also a candidate for the U. S. Senate. Arkoosh shut down all Montgomery County schools for two weeks around Thanksgiving, which she feared would be a super spreader event. My view is that Arkoosh is a petty progressive authoritarian who has been among the worst of area public figures in controlling businesses and schools based on her own whims versus the science.
I think the decisions of these two school boards this past week also reflected the focus that organized groups of parents have placed on school board elections. Clarice Schillinger, leader of Keeping Kids in School PAC and a frequent guest on my show, endorsed and supported over 90 school candidates in the May 18 primaries and she won in 95 percent of the races. In fact, I interviewed an excellent candidate in the Council Rock School Board race.
So, I salute Dr. David Damsker, the Central Bucks and Council Rock School Boards. They are role models as we begin to come out of the pandemic. Citizens of Montgomery County, why don’t you join us?