PAULDING — A group of parents/individuals were in attendance at the Paulding Exempted Village Board of Education meeting Monday to speak out against a mask mandate instituted by the district on Sept. 6.

Superintendent Ken Amstutz also gave an update on the Panthers Schools Out Academic Recreation (SOAR) after-school program.

In addition, the Paulding Education Association (PEA) was on hand to address the board on behalf of the teachers concerning contact negotiations, while the board also addressed the subject (see related story, this page).

A group of approximately 25 people were on hand to share their feelings about the district’s mask mandate, telling the board it shouldn’t have mandated masks, that they don’t work, and the district did not have the right to mandate masks in the first place.

After hearing from those in the crowd, Superintendent Ken Amstutz explained following a recent outbreak of COVID at the beginning of the month, the district instituted the mandatory mask mandate for students and staff on Sept. 6. On Sept. 1, the district had a total of 78 student absences, with that number falling to 51 absences on Monday.

Said Amstutz: “We had a major outbreak recently, especially in our middle school, so we instituted a mask mandate for a short amount of time. We had quarantines skyrocketing ... it was getting out of control. We felt we needed do something as a district for a short time to keep our kids in class.”

After hearing from the crowd, the board passed a resolution by a vote of 3-2 to end the mask mandate Friday. Included in the resolution is the fact only the board can mandate masks moving forward. In addition, if the school has a COVID outbreak, or the Paulding County Health Department deems it necessary to shut down the school because of COVID, the district will move to remote learning, and won’t return until the outbreak has waned.

In his report, Amstutz shared the Panthers SOAR program will Tuesday (today) at Paulding and Oakwood elementary schools, as well as Paulding Middle School. The program is a tutoring program that will serve approximately 70 students or so.

Amstutz also shared the district has access to an attendance officer/family engagement coordinator through the Western Buckeye Educational Service Center (ESC). The ESC secured a grant which allows for Mindy Wenzlick to serve in that capacity in the district.

In other business, the board:

• approved the class of 2022, the class of 2024 and class of 2025 student activity budgets.

• OK’d the district policy and plan for the identification of services of children who are gifted.

• accepted the resignation of the following individuals: Angie Wiswell, middle school paraprofessional, effective at the end of Oct. 15. Wiswell has served the district for 26 years; and Dave Parrish as eighth-grade football coach, effective immediately.

• voted for several one-year, extracurricular contracts for 2021-22.

These contracts were for — Stephany Foltz, junior class advisor; Aaron Horstman, high school Science Olympiad; Travis McGarvy, varsity assistant boys’ basketball; Logan Stoller, junior varsity boys’ basketball; Corbin Edwards, ninth-grade boys’ basketball; Brian Daeger, eighth-grade boys’ basketball; Jarod Riley, seventh-grade boys’ basketball; Ben Barton, varsity assistant girls’ basketball (50%); Alex Arellano, varsity assistant girls’ basketball (50%); Dylan Welch, junior varsity girls’ basketball; Jodi Griffith, junior high girls basketball (1/3); Robin Eberle, junior high girls’ basketball (1/3); Mallory Clark, junior high girls’ basketball (1/3); and Aaron Mock, varsity assistant wrestling.

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