PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsutawney Area School District principals are seeing few problems with students wearing masks in school, and are not seeing many disciplinary actions taken since the start of the school year.
High School Principal Jeff Long reported at a recent meeting there are only 10 students out of the whole high school who have not worn masks to school.
“My school year was stellar. These kids made it that way because of the amount of cooperation I have gotten as opposed to what I had nightmares about the week before school started,” Long said.
Lunch period is used as a mask break period, as the students do not wear them while eating. He is also allowing teachers to approve mask breaks on request of the students. If a student wants a break, they can move off the side of the class to take a short break with their mask off.
Student School Board Member Louise Bennett said for the most part, not many students utilize the mask breaks.
“I know that in my classes, no one really utilizes them. They kind of just wear their mask, they accept it, and it kind of is what it is. And then we get to take them off at lunch, which I think is a nice thing for everyone involved,” Bennett said.
The grade school is following this same protocol, offering mask breaks to students who ask for them.
Long also reported that there had only been a few issues of discipline when it comes to mask wearing in school. He handled each of these individually with parents.
“They’re angry because they think they have their own ideas about what they want their kids to be able to do. The words ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ have been thrown around a lot at me this week and last week, but I just maintain a level head and say ‘this is the way it is,’” Long said.
He often explains to them that the school sees the order as lawful, and that he is promoting this to them from a neutral standpoint. The students either have to wear the mask, or go to cyber school.
“The people have been by and large very good with me, even if they are very opposed to this measure. They’ve been good with me because I think they see the position we’re in. This is something that I have to make their children do in school,” Long said.
This was echoed by Elementary Principal Mike Guidice, who also said his students have been very accepting of the masks.
“The teachers do a lot of their self-containing, but to my knowledge we haven’t had any mask issues,” Guidice said.
Long said the portable shields were purchased for the students before masks were a requirement. Now with mandatory masks, the shields aren’t seeing much use by upperclassmen. He leaves it up to teachers if they require them.
“They are not using them as a rule at the high school because of the mask rule now,” Long said.
Bennett said most of the upperclassmen only used the shields the first few days of school. Once the students found out if the teachers would require them or not, they quit carrying them.
She did say it seems many of the seventh and eighth graders still carry them.
“I see a few seventh and eighth graders using them. As far as kids that I intermingle with everyday, like 10th through 12th graders, I don’t know of anyone that uses them,” Bennett said.