Fargo School Board votes down motion to end mask mandate

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) – In a 7 to 2 vote, Fargo School Board members decide not to update the district’s policy to recommend masking versus mandating them.

A discussion over recommending versus mandating masks in Fargo schools was brought up two weeks ago by Board Member Jennifer Benson. At this week’s meeting, she continued to advocate for parents who want a choice.

“What is the endgame? To mask forever? That has to have been a conversation whether it’s one person at Fargo-Cass or a team, doesn’t matter,” Benson said.

Fargo Public Schools follows guidance provided by Fargo-Cass Public Health, which recommends a mask mandate.

Much of the conversation at Tuesday’s meeting centered around Fargo-Cass’s threshold for removing that mandate.

“There’s really not a threshold right now at this point. Our public health entities are working to study this on an ongoing basis,” Fargo School Board President Rebecca Knutson said.

“There has to be a threshold; there has to be a number that when reached, is safe enough that we can say, ‘Okay, masks are simply recommended now, they’re not required,'” Fargo School Board Member David Paulson said.

Prior to making their decision, board members heard from members of the public, including Fargo-Cass Public Health Director Desi Fleming, who says COVID-19 cases among children are on the rise.

“Children make up nearly 30% of active cases in the state. There are currently two children with COVID in the zero to five age group hospitalized within Cass County,” Fleming said.

According to the district’s data, 25 Fargo Public School students tested positive this week, and 77 are in isolation as of September 24th.

“I think we all understand the bulk of the people that are going to get severely ill are probably not our K-12 system, but certainly our K-12 students can spread this disease to any and everybody they come in contact with,” Fargo School Board Member Jim Johnson said.

“As a board that oversees one of the largest employers in this city, where healthcare officials are begging the entire community to help them fight this, what does it say about us if we don’t?” Fargo School Board Member Seth Holden said.

Benson and Paulson were the only ones voting to make masks optional.

Categories: Coronavirus, Coronavirus-ND, Health, Local News, North Dakota News