Board extends deadline for mask exemption


Ninety-seven percent of students in Bellwood have complied with the Governor’s mask mandate.

Kimberly Bennett, Staff Writer

Students who choose to refuse to wear masks in the Bellwood-Antis high school can avoid doing so for just a few more weeks.

The school board on September 14 decided that the parents who don’t want their children to wear a mask have until October 1 to present a medical exemption.

Governor Tom Wolf stated that masks were required in all Pennsylvania public and private schools, a mandate that began September 7. The measure is in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 and the highly contagious delta variant.

“I know that masks are a divisive topics. Wearing a mask is less comfortable than not wearing a mask,” said high school principal Mr. Richard Schreier. “I know that many students, and their parents, dislike masks.”

People might not enjoy wearing masks, but studies have shown there are benefits to it. The CDC has indicated that cloth masks can prevent the transmission of COVID through droplets produced when talking, but beyond that if an unvaccinated student is within 3-6ft of a positive student for 15 consecutive minutes, and both are properly masked, then the close contact is NOT required to quarantine.

Mr. Schreier also says despite some pushback most students are complying with the mask mandate. “Although masking is unpopular with many, only 3% of our student body has requested a mask exception,” he said. 

Other schools in the area have dealt with the masking issue, as well, with heated discussions taking place at board meetings in both Altoona and Tyrone. Cases have risen steadily in Blair County since the start of September, with the number of new infections reaching a high of 79 on September 15.