By Kaitlin Bedell
The new Londonderry School District Covid-19 Task Force came together for their second meeting to discuss the 2021-reopening plan during the most recent meeting on July 22.
The board discussed their ideas regarding the most recent state and CDC guidelines and reviewed a list of priorities that they had drafted at their last meeting.
Included in the discussion was the board’s thought on being mask optional for the school year.
One member brought up the idea that they think the Task Force should remain in effect throughout the school year so that if COVID cases go up, the board can reevaluate and continue to make decisions based on the health of students and faculty.
Some Task Force members agreed that it would be a good idea to keep the board in affect and that they should try to make going back to school in the fall as normal as possible for the students.
With chairman Chad Franz being absent from the meeting, Vice Chair, Dani Richards conducted things on Thursday night.
She stated, “I think it’s important when we talk about health that we incorporate mental health.”
Richards said that in children ages 5-11, mental health related emergency room visits went up by 25 percent. She said that she believes this is largely because of the long-term mask mandates and social distancing that have been in affect in schools.
Task Force member Jim Green said he “hears everybody’s concerns” and “respects them” regarding the mental health of children, but that he thinks that people need to look hard at the data and the possibility that COVID cases could rise in the coming months.
The Task Force continued to review several other issues that they had deemed as priorities such as interactions between students and the handling of special education programs this year.
After going over each of the ideas that the Task Force had come up with so far, the meeting was again opened to public comment where parents and town members shared their thoughts on each of the ideas that the Task Force had come up with.
“Thank you all, I think you’re doing a wonderful job and thank you for listening to us,” one member of the public said. “I feel that missing at the school board meetings. I don’t feel heard there and I really do feel heard here and I really appreciate that so thank you.”
Another parent came to the microphone and said that she was also grateful for the new Task Force and their handling of the meetings.
“I just want to thank you, it’s so good hearing all of the conversations going back and forth,” the member of the public said. “There wasn’t a lot of that happening with the school board, so I feel like this is amazing. “
After several parents came up to share their opinions during public comment, the meeting came to a close.
At the next meeting, the Task Force will begin to vote on some of the priorities they reviewed during the meeting.
Richards said she encourages people to come at the next meeting and speak during public comment prior to their voting and that if anybody cannot attend the meeting but has a comment they would like to share they can send it to Thereopeningplan@londonderry.org.