Parents discuss opposition to mandated face masks


By Sam Wildow

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TROY — With two months to go until classes start up again, a handful of parents spoke about their opposition to any potential enforced face mask policies in the coming school year during the Troy Board of Education meeting on Monday.

The board has not said whether or not face masks will be required in the fall, and summer classes are currently not requiring face masks.

Jessica Melvin, of Troy, said she was speaking on behalf of her family and approximately 355-plus Troy parents. She later asked the board not to require students to wear face masks for in-person learning, asking the board to make it optional.

“Summer school’s not masking, so I would like to think that means we’re going to segue right into the fall and not be masking, but I’m not banking on that because I feel like you’re constantly changing this school system,” Melvin said.

Melvin, who has been working in the medical field since 2005, said earlier in her comments to the board that she has worked with patients with a number of diseases and illnesses, saying she is “disease-free.”

“You name it, I’ve seen it,” Melvin said. “Call me lucky, call it science, call it whatever you want. Our bodies are miraculous and wonderful things.”

Melvin said she reads research and “questions almost everything regarding healthcare,” saying, “I live and breathe for information because I know that my kids’ future and the future of our communities are being threatened.”

“I feel like our medical freedom is slowly being stripped away,” Melvin said.

Melvin spoke anecdotally about a misunderstanding her daughter had in her preschool that was caused by a face mask as her daughter was not able to see an adult’s facial expressions or hear “muffled words” through a face mask. Melvin also spoke about a friend who was a former Marine and currently works in law enforcement who suffers from hearing loss, as well as another friend who removed their child with autism from in-person classes last year due to face masking.

Melvin read a number of studies released regarding children and COVID-19. Melvin later said her presentation was 30 minutes, and the board allows for three-minute comments from members of the community. President of the board Tom Kleptz stopped Melvin after approximately 10 minutes, addressing some of Melvin’s concerns, although the board was unable to speak for certain on whether mask mandates would return with the in-person classes in the fall.

Kleptz said approximately 144 students in Troy were positive for COVID-19 during the last school year, but he added, “We can’t say where they got it.” While students who are currently attending summer school are not being required to wear face masks, Kleptz and the board declined to say whether or not the district would require the face masks in the fall as they did not know what health orders the future may bring.

Melvin said the board may get more oversight in regard to face masks due to Ohio Senate Bill 22, which will establish legislative oversight over the governor’s health orders. Kleptz said the district would still have to comply with the county health commissioner.

Later, board member Doug Trostle said, “If we had our desire, we would go mask-free.”

Kletpz later added the district will continue to offer the online academy this coming school year for parents who do not want their children to return to in-person learning.

As other parents spoke up, Samuel J. Pierce, a recently-elected Troy City Council member who will take office in 2022, said the district’s compliance was “ineffective” as he had heard that students were wearing the face masks with their noses exposed.

“I’m in favor of our children not having to mask,” Pierce said.

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