More than 70 parents and community members joined Klamath County School District Superintendent Glen Szymoniak tonight (Sept. 2) on the lawn of Mazama High School for a discussion about schools and state mandates. The forum was followed by a question and answer session.
As the event began, football players gathered on nearby Viking Field, warming up for an evening game.
Klamath County Sheriff Chris Kaber was among the first to address the crowd, explaining he supported their right to peaceably protest but asking that those who wish to do so not disrupt the first day of school for students.
Some parents wanted the school district to defy the state mask mandate, risking educators’ certifications as well as fines and loss of liability insurance. But others said it was an unacceptable risk to ask of teachers and administrators. The state is requiring the wearing of masks inside all K-12 school buildings.
Janah Moorer, who will be a senior at Mazama when school starts next week, told the crowd she is ready to be back in the classroom fulltime after a year of distance learning and hybrid schedules. “I’m not a fan of masks, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice,” she said.
For nearly 40 minutes, community members had the floor, asking questions about state mandates and how school will look for students this fall. Superintendent Glen Szymoniak then answered as many questions as time allowed. He also explained how the district will continue to advocate for local control, which would allow leaders to work with Klamath County Public Health to determine how best to handle COVID-19.
Questions ranged from staffing, mask mandates and vaccination requirements for school staff to critical race theory (CRT is not part of the district’s curriculum). The school district is compiling the questions and answers and will post them on our website at www.kcsd.k12.or.us.
As the meeting ended, the football game started and fans could be heard cheering. Szymoniak thanked parents and community members for taking the time to attend the town hall before joining Mazama Principal Jennifer Hawkins and heading to Viking Field to watch the students play.
“We all care about our children and want our schools open,” he said. “I will always be accountable to you and listen to you. Now whether I can do everything you want? I can’t make that promise, but I can promise you that I’m going to provide you with a respectful environment so you can get your questions answered.”