Board votes to maintain masking threshold

Masks required in schools if cases exceed 1.5 percent


By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The Mehlville Board of Education voted 5-1 June 9 to maintain the positivity threshold for mandatory masking at 1.5 percent. 

Board President Peggy Hassler, Vice President Tori Behlke, Directors Jean Pretto, Jeff Wolman and Patrick McKelvey voted in favor of a resolution maintaining the threshold while Director Scott Huegerich voted against it. 

The resolution outlines when mandated masking is implemented on a per building basis. If a building’s positivity rate exceeds 1.5 percent of its population, then that building must universally mask for at least 10 school days, until the positivity level drops below 1.5 percent. 

As of June 13, St. Louis County was in the “high” transmission range according to criteria from the Centers for Disease Control and is averaging over 400 new cases a day. 

“I don’t know that the data supports that the way we’re implementing a mask policy is doing any good. I want to focus my attention on the classrooms and I want to make sure they’re as efficient as possible,” Huegerich said. “Unfortunately I think masks hinder that ever so slightly.” 

Huegerich pointed out that more often than not, people in public in places like restaurants, grocery stores and sporting events aren’t wearing masks, and therefore it didn’t seem to make sense to continue requiring masks in a school setting when most people were opting not to mask in their daily lives.

“If you walk out anywhere in public … there’s less than 10 percent of the people are wearing masks. So if you want to sort of understand what people are thinking, you can go out in public and see for yourself,” Huegerich said. “I would say that the parents … probably would rather have their kids in masks less because that’s how they’re generally behaving in public.” 

Behlke said that while she did not disagree with what Huegerich was saying, school differed in that students are mandated to be in class, whereas it is optional for people to go out to public places. 

“I know we’ve all said before not wanting to see masks on students, I would only highlight … we’re requiring students to attend school in person and we want them to be in person,” Behlke said. “Other places in the community you’re given an option if you go there or how you go there … school is not the same. … We want our kids in person, we want them in front of teachers who can be there.”