This article was written by sophomore Yolanda Bansah, with assistance with the pictures and captions from the U-32 Journalism class.
It was an ordinary Thursday morning, on May 4th. One student walked into the building with a friend, but stopped before walking into the building. They quickly pulled up the mask from below their chin before reaching for the door. This week masks aren’t optional anymore. Once again, a mask mandate has been reimposed. The fourth mask policy change this year.
Currently, WCUUSD is one of the only districts in the state that requires masks at times and bases mask policies off of CDC guidelines. Mask policies aren’t decided by the district alone. The superintendent, the union, and the school board all work together and determine based on CDC guidelines what to do moving forward with masking in schools.
“This is fundamentally about the health and wellbeing of our community,” said interim superintendent Jennifer Miller-Arsenault. “ I think by and large folks have been responsive and have understood why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
Miller-Arsenault said there hasn’t been too much criticism and opposition from the community. “By and large I’ve heard a lot of support for the way that we’re doing this,” she said. She said most of the criticism has been over the “social-emotional wellness and the mental health aspects” that people feel masking is taking on students.
Recently, there was some opposition from Dan French, the secretary of the Vermont Agency of Education on the way the district has handled mask mandates. He emailed the superintendent asking her to drop the mandate since it wasn’t consistent with Vermont Department of Health guidance. The two exchanged some emails with Miller-Arsenault defending the district’s decision.
Essentially, Miller-Arsenault wants what is best for the community and believes the decision enforces that belief. She continues to stand firm in the district’s decision. “I think that masking has become a political issue and I sort of want to stay away from the politics and the feelings and I want to stay grounded on what makes sense to protect our community,” she said. “I will stay centered on the fact that I think that it is the decision that is the safest for our district.”