Pine-Richland administration considers separating masked and unmasked students

Right now, the Pine-Richland administration is considering separating masked and unmasked kids in classrooms.

However, a local pediatrician said it’s a recipe for disaster and some parents think it’s a terrible plan.

“I think that’s a bad idea. I think segregation on any level is a bad idea,” said Pine-Richland parent, John Cory.

John Cory has two kids attending Pine Richland High school. He’s one of many parents fuming over the possibility of students being separated in school after the administration presented a controversial idea during Monday’s special health and safety plan meeting.

The administration proposed a classroom design where masked and unmasked kids sit on opposite sides of the classroom, six feet apart, regardless of vaccination status, to prevent risk of quarantine. However, the plan is not sitting well with a lot of parents

“I think segregation like that is going to generate a lot more other challenges from questions to bullying,” said Cory. “I don’t think any of that is a good idea. I can’t fathom that goes anywhere. I don’t think there was a single person who was in favor of that when it was announced.”

After conducting a parent survey, the administration said, “We know from experience and input that some parents whose children are masked do not want them to sit within six feet of an unmasked student.” They added at the elementary level, teachers would then arrange desks and seating to create more distancing to reduce the risk of quarantine. However, it’s more challenging at the middle and high school levels since students attend up to eight different classes.

Channel 11 asked Kids Plus Pediatrics if this segregation plan could work.

“No, I would tell you no health official would have come up with that because this virus is as transmissible and infectious as anything circulating around the planet right now,” said Dr. Todd Wolynn, the CEO of Kids Plus Pediatrics. He’s also a pediatrician. “If everyone is masked and spaced, that’s the best possible chance for in person attendance for school but some people without masks and some people with masks is just a recipe for all the unmasked kids to get and increase the risk of masked kids can get it,” said Dr. Wolynn.

The separation plan has not been approved by the board. In fact, the school board had some objections during Monday’s meeting. They will vote on the plan next week on Monday.

The district sent us this statement regarding the idea, “Through the duration of the pandemic, the district continues to review all aspects of the health and safety plan. Information about these plans is available on the Pine-Richland website. We know that our community and staff strongly support in-person learning. As changes are considered in the approach, the district is working to balance various needs within each classroom and for students, staff and parents.”

Click here for a link to the board agenda.