WOOSTER, Ohio — With nearly a week of a new school year under its belt, Wooster City Schools, like many other school districts, is trying to navigate yet another year of difficult decisions with the pandemic lingering.
Earlier this summer the school board approved a mask mandate for all students and staff to start the year. Board members said they planned to revisit the mandate after a couple of months.
"The burden that we feel for the safety and well-being of your children, the children of this district who we love so much, is... this is an overwhelming decision," said Wooster City School Board President Sue Herman at their July 27 board meeting. "We are truly trying to place the well-being of our students and staff in the forefront and we've made it off following the science through this whole pandemic and I think that's what we're going to have to keep doing."
But many parents aren't on board with a mask mandate and plan to have their voices heard on Tuesday night at the district board meeting.
"We appreciate their concern for doing what is best for our children. but on the other hand, they have to consult. They have to allow the parents to express their opinions," Arturo Machado said.
Machado is a Wooster resident and one of several who said the mandate needs to be reversed.
"We believe it's a violation of our constitutional rights and freedom and it's contradictory even to state and federal law because neither the CDC nor the Ohio Department of Health have issued any such mandates," he said.
Machado sent a letter to the district board on behalf of a large group of parents. The letter explains that critical policies and guidelines - like the mask mandate - were issued without the participation and opinion of parents and the community at large.
"So they are overstepping their boundaries by issuing a policy that by Ohio State Title 33 which school boards are not are not authorized to do," he said.
In the letter, Machado said, the group supports parents who choose to have their children wear a mask while at school or choose to have their child vaccinated, but they do not support a mandate.
"On the other hand, we are pro-choice - based on the constitution," Machado told News 5. "Nobody wants to fight. We're not here to fight, I mean, we're here to make progress."
The Wooster school district's Board of Education meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Wooster High School. The meeting is open for public comment and will be broadcast on the district's YouTube channel.