I attended the school board meeting on October 7, 2021, that was held regarding school reopening after a 2 ½ week closure for illness. The trustees present included Jody Hendrickx, Mark Reynolds, Sandy Kennelly, and Pete Dirlam. Jody Terrell, who is listed on the school district’s website as the trustee for Zone 5, was not present.
I was appalled at what I witnessed at this meeting. Those present in the audience were instructed by Alica Holthaus, the superintendent of the St. Maries School District, not to speak and only to watch and listen as the trustees proceeded with the meeting. There was no opportunity to speak for or against what was being decided for our children.
The discussion began with three of the trustees in favor of the children returning to school without masks on October 11, 2021. The other trustee, Sandy Kennelly, wanted to push the reopening of school back one to two weeks and have a mask requirement for all staff and students.
The trustees discussed masking options, such as having a mask mandate only for teachers, leaving the choice to wear a mask up to the staff and parents, and having a mask mandate for everyone in the school district.
Jody Hendrickx stayed firm in his belief that staff, students, and parents should enjoy medical freedom and be able to choose if they want to wear a mask or put a mask on their children upon returning to school.
Sandy Kennelly used fear and emotion rather than scientific proof to sway those on the school board. She simply referred to copies of the Coeur d’Alene Press as her “evidence” of why a mask mandate should be required for our children.
The other trustees didn’t question what was presented in a couple of fear-based articles in a liberal newspaper when they were bending in their beliefs. Sandy Kennelly did not cite actual research-based evidence in her swaying of Pete Dirlam and Mark Reynolds. She strong armed them and borderline bullied them into agreeing with her by rudely repeatedly asking them, with her arms crossed and her own face unmasked, why they would have an opinion different than hers after what she referenced in the newspaper.
Mark Reynolds is also our County Commissioner. His failure to stand firm on his beliefs as a school board trustee makes me question how firmly he is representing the residents of our county.
There was no consideration of the emotional well-being of our children by the school board in their decision to mandate masks. Children have a 99.997 percent Covid 19 survival rate. There is absolutely no reason to make our children suffer through these next two weeks of being masked.
Sandy Kennelly was allowed to control the direction of the voting by the school board in their decision to mandate masks for staff and students with no regard to the fact that 47 percent of parents responded in a survey on October 6, 2021, that they were not willing to mask their children in order for school to reopen.
Masks do more harm than good. Humans are not meant to rebreathe their own exhalations. In addition, no accommodations were made for children on an IEP or a 504, which means that children with asthma, ADHD, or other medical concerns have no option but to either stay home from school for an additional two weeks with no educational resources provided by the school district, or they must wear a mask which prohibits proper breathing and causes a major distraction from learning for a child with ADHD.
The parents were asked, and the fact that they choose medical freedom for their children was ignored. If the school board won’t listen to what half of the parents in the school district are saying, maybe they’ll listen to the hit on their budget as we vote no on upcoming levies.
I encourage anyone that supports medical freedom to attend the school board meeting on October 25, 2021. The school board will be deciding that night if they will end or continue the current unnecessary mask mandate.