Ellington school board pushes against upcoming state mask policies for student-athletes

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ELLINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — The guidance at issue is set to change on Dec. 24 to require unvaccinated student-athletes to mask up.

On Dec. 9, the Ellington Board of Education sent a letter to Connecticut’s Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Manitha Juthani, expressing concerns regarding the state policy on those mask mandates.

According to the current Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) guidelines – which follow the DPH guidance – if a student-athlete is vaccinated, they are only required to wear a face mask in settings such as practice, sidelines, benches, and the locker rooms. If a student-athlete is partially vaccinated or unvaccinated, masks are required in-game for some sports and in all other settings.

This policy will be in effect in 10 days.

Superintendent Dr. Scott V. Nicol, wrote, in part, this state policy “may violate the district’s obligations under the Family Educational Records Protection Act to keep student information private that they potentially publicly stigmatize students and present them for targets of harassment…”

We asked the superintendent if they want all athletes to have to wear masks or no masks at all. Everyone seems to agree, they just want to avoid stigmatizing students.

Board of Ed. Chair Jen Dzen explained, “I have been hearing from parents and students alike that school is challenging enough. There is enough division there just being a student, that this adds another layer.”

Jennifer Mullin, secretary of the Ellington Board of Education, said, “You can be pro-mask or anti-mask, it has nothing to do with that. It’s just the way the policy is written right now. It does say if you are vaccinated you do not have to mask up.”

Superintendent Nicol added, “You are possibly creating a divisive environment between vaccinated and unvaccinated and that is something we do not think is a good policy direction at all.”

The governor’s office released a statement saying, “Gov. Ned Lamont wants to keep kids in the classroom, on the court, on the ice, and active in sports as these are the activities and relationships which are important for a child’s development. These guidelines, crafted in conjunction with CIAC, are aimed at ensuring schools remain open, people are protected from the spread of COVID-19, and ensuring kids can participate in-person without disruption.”

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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