Dozens debate masks at Lakeview Board meeting
Police remove unmasked state rep from meeting
CORTLAND — State Rep. Mike Loychik was escorted out Monday by a city police officer before the start of the Lakeview Board of Education meeting for not putting on a face mask — despite numerous signs stating masks are required.
Police initially asked him to put on a mask per the district’s protocol, but he refused and, after a couple of minutes, Loychik, R-Bazetta, was led out of the auditorium.
He took to social media to express outrage, calling Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor and the rest of the board cowards.
“I was escorted out of the Lakeview school board meeting at the discretion of the cowardly Superintendent Velina J. Taylor and the cowardly board members,” he wrote. “My mission was to speak about making masks optional and they had me escorted out by their (school resource officer) for not donning a mask. As a healthy individual, a leader and representative, I would have looked hypocritical for wearing one and will never bow down to their ridiculous mandates.”
Prior to leaving, Loychik told the three board members up for election this year to “start campaigning now.” He expanded on that statement in his post.
“… the ones who are running against you have full resource to any asset I can provide them with,” he wrote. “Way to show your true colors Lakeview School District.”
STUDENTS IN CLASSROOMS
Taylor said she looks at data weekly and ensures the district is following proper guidelines set by various advisory groups. She said from the beginning the mandate is all about keeping students in class, in person.
“Our goal is to keep the schools open all day, every day, five days a week,” Taylor said. “That’s because of the edict that came from such a large number of parents last winter that kept telling me how important it is that their children be in school all day every day.”
Taylor said there have been 30 positive cases since school started four weeks ago, 20 of which were in the high school, five were in the middle school and five were in the elementary school. She also said there have been no cases among the staff.
Loychik and state Rep Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, introduced House Bill 400 Aug. 25. The bill would prohibit public schools from mandating students to wear a mask. According to OhioHouse.gov, the bill has more than 20 cosponsors and awaits its first committee hearing.
Loychik told the Tribune Chronicle prior to the bill’s introduction that there is a need for parents to determine if their child should wear a mask.
” … based on the outcry I’ve heard from constituents I believe this is a decision that should remain optional and up to the discretion of parents on whether or not their child needs to wear a mask” and “not a mandate from schools receiving public taxpayer funds,” he said.
Masks for students was the theme for dozens of parents who attended the meeting, frustrated by the district’s policy. As 60 or so people trickled into Raidel Auditorium, they were greeted by numerous people with American flags and signs expressing opposition to the mask requirement.
Loychik was among a handful of Lakeview parents set to address the board. Initially there were six slated to speak, but only four did after Loychik was dismissed. Two others were also asked to leave the meeting for not wearing a mask.
Of the four who spoke, two parents were in support of the mandate and the others, against. Jordan Biel said while he appreciates the leadership shown by the district, he strongly disagrees with the mandate.
“I’ve seen many of the teachers and board members out in public at games and everywhere else with no mask on, so please explain to me how a deadly virus is deadly between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” he said. “We do this with no other virus.”
He discussed non-verbal emotions conveyed by children when they are frustrated or do not understand schoolwork. “Non-verbal expressions from kids are important for teachers to see. We show empathy, we show joy — kids need that. Parents need to see their kids gritting their teeth or making a face if they don’t understand or are frustrated,” Biel said.
Sara Hines said it should be up to the parents to decide what is best for their children. “The most disturbing part is our government, the school board and the superintendent know what’s best for my child, but don’t know my child’s name, don’t know anything about her or what she’s been through … I’m her mother. I know what’s best for my child. This certainly should have been taken into consideration.”
FOR THE MASKS
Tanya Wojciak and Holly Kahn, however, commended the board for upholding the best interests of the students.
“Whether you choose to believe it or not, it is scientifically proven that masks reduce the spread of COVID-19. This only works if everyone wears a mask,” Wojciak said.
Wojciak also pointed to other local schools that originally made masks optional, but switched course and require all students to wear masks. “It’s the only way we can guarantee to keep our children in the classroom,” she said. “Your freedoms are not being taken away… mask requirements are not child abuse.”
Kahn said wearing masks in school is the best chance to continue in-person learning.
“I thank all of you for making the choice that aligns with expert recommendations,” Kahn said.
Overall, Taylor said students are complying with the mandate.
“They are happy about being in school every day with their teachers, learning, being with their friends, having recess, those kinds of things are important to them. It’s clear, it’s very clear,” Taylor said.