In-person board present: Adam Jones, Dan Newton, Lisa Burbach, and Aimee Menard
Board present via Zoom: Brandon Adams
Administration present: Mark MacLean, Randy Wormald, Dennis Dobe, Dennis Audet, and Beth Page
Public present: Rosa Guzman, Jamie Johnson, Caden Heath, Pete Shedd, Chrissy Shedd, Nancy Teach, Thomas Ware, Katelyn Churchill, Kyle Tremblay, Molly Leith, Dan Mori, Greg Stetson, Michele Stetson, Sarah Whitcher, Matt Whitcher, Nicole LeRoche, Sarah Lester, Brian Reynolds, Kiley Thompson, Steve Riore, Brad Hardie, Caroline Boucher
Pete Shedd expressed concerns regarding masks. His family struggled through masking last year. Mr. Shedd stated he believes that masks used at schools don’t have a significant impact in stopping the spread of COVID. Academic and social harms impacting students by wearing masks were noted, as well as carbon monoxide levels. He made note of the death
rate comparison between COVID and the flu.
Caden Heath expressed concerns regarding masks. Children should have the right to breathe without a mask. There are negative health effects and these masks are not effective. K-2 students are socially/emotionally affected by wearing masks. Caden advocated for making schools normal again by doing away with masks.
Sarah Lester feels that the Delta variant is impactful. She noted that southern schools in the nation have had significant quarantines as a result. Statistics from Georgia, Missouri, and Florida reveal high transmission rates. In-person learning experience will need masks. Medically vulnerable students also need to be considered. Persistent symptoms of COVID can remain in children.
Greg Stetson implored the Board to listen to our local health expert, Dr. Lester (see above). He noted that surgeons have worn masks for a number of years, yet they are not oxygen deprived. Mr. Stetson feels that it is cheap insurance.
Kyle Tremblay noted that our younger children are some of the most resilient. Our younger children are very adaptable and it is upon us to protect them. The pandemic has a lot of mental health effects; the masks themselves are not correlated with those effects.
Kiley Thompson shared that her child attended a local preschool last year, and attended with 15 other children who weren’t wearing masks. A few students contracted COVID over the course of that year. She shared a low statistic of adults contracting COVID from a child who hasn’t worn a mask.
Aimee asked for a motion to discuss masking. Adam moved, Lisa seconded.
Aimee reminded the Board that earlier in the month, they had accepted using a matrix to determine mandated mask wearing. The proposed matrix includes the towns Franklin, Hill, Salisbury, Wilmot, New London, Danbury.
Mark discussed how the New Hampshire DHHS looks at the 14-day cumulative total of new COVID cases. The Board had been looking at a 14-day rolling average of active cases; he noted this difference. Mark revealed the mask mandate decisions of four local school boards. The towns in our area have 241 new cases over the past 14 days. He shared data regarding new cases of COVID:
Danbury; 1 new case, population 1,200
Hill; 1 new case, population 1,100
Wilmot; 1 new case, population 1,100
Salisbury; 8 new cases, population 1,400
Franklin; 26 new cases, population 8,700
New London; 6 new cases, population 4,100
Andover; 6 new cases, population 2,400
Hospitalization data on the New Hampshire DHHS Dashboard were reviewed. The Board discussed implementing the matrix as it is presented. The matrix being discussed is in alignment with the New Hampshire DHHS rather than the CDC.
Adam made a motion to adopt the matrix as developed, to include the six adjacent towns. Randy noted that it is the cumulative new-case matrix over a 14-day period.
Adam proposed that the Stay Open framework be amended to include the matrix of Andover and all adjacent towns, with the 14-day rolling of cumulative new cases. Lisa seconded the motion.
Brandon proposed to Adam and Lisa a Friendly Amendment to put Tilton into the matrix. This was accepted. Tilton’s population is about 3,500 people. Aimee asked the Board to vote on the motion to adopt the matrix as developed, to include Andover, its six adjacent towns, and Tilton. In favor; Lisa, Adam, Brandon, Aimee. Opposed; Dan.
Aimee proposed to entertain a motion for the masking requirement, in consideration of New Hampshire DHHS guidance minimal/green level (no mask mandate), moderate/yellow level (recommended mask mandate), and substantial transmission risk/red level (required masking for all).
Adam made a motion to amend the reopening plan to follow guidance from New Hampshire DHHS at the three stated levels. Lisa seconded the motion.
The total population of the towns within the accepted matrix is 23,872. Currently there’s a total of 62 new cases in the past 14 days. That number puts our community in the red/substantial level of risk.
Lisa suggested following the recommendations of our local health experts. Adam agreed.
Mark discussed the exceptions within the NHDPHS School and Childcare Toolkit, such as outdoor learning, etc. Brandon proposed a Friendly Amendment to suggest that when it’s yellow/moderate or above, masks are required. Adam declined the amendment.
Aimee presented the motion to vote. In favor; Adam, Lisa, Aimee, Dan. Opposed; Brandon.
Aimee proposed to entertain a motion to amend our Stay Open framework. Adam made the motion. Dan seconded. Mark discussed his suggestions to language, grammar, and data for the Stay Open framework based off of Merrimack Valley edits for clarity.
Adam made a motion to accept those motions as presented. Lisa seconded. In favor; Adam, Lisa, Brandon, Dan, Aimee.