By Bob Zientara

To mask, or not to mask?

That was the question asked of members of the Cameron School Board Monday, June 22, 2020, as they discussed plans for an outdoor high school commencement exercise on Friday evening, July 24, at the Cameron High School football stadium.

Postponed from late May because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony is open only to graduates and up to six invited guests per student.

The mask question came up when Principal John Meznarich went over some of the ground rules for the event.

He said no one will be admitted who has a temperature of over 100.4 degrees, and that the ceremony will be live-streamed. Masks would be encouraged, Meznarich said, but he also asked for opinions from the board.

Chairman Don Rappel invited board members Gene Phillips, Brandon Olson, Jeff Gifford and Randy Hill to offer their thoughts.

Phillips wondered if the district should require wearing masks at all times during the event, adding, later, that it could be a benefit to grandparents and other older relatives who plan to attend.

Gifford said he felt wearing a mask “is a personal choice.”

He said research shows most masks won’t work, and that the federal Office of Safety and Health Administration “only backs one mask on the market that actually prevents a virus.

“I get a chuckle when I see someone wear a cloth on their face and they think it works,” he said.

Phillips said he had seen information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that cloth masks will slow the spread of the virus.

Meznarich said Chetek High School held an outdoor ceremony June 7 and didn’t require masks, but handed them out.

Olson said he thought masks added “peace of mind (and) comfort for people. It’s an inconvenience, but people are getting more used to it.”

Hill said he thought masks should be worn going into and out of the event, but they could be removed once the graduates and their invited guests were seated as separate groups.

Rappel said in his personal opinion, masks should be mandatory if rain forces the event indoors.

However, “I like the idea of wearing (masks) while coming in and going out but (that guests) can remove (masks) while sitting with immediate family,” he added

The board’s oral consensus was to require masks while entering and leaving the football stadium, but not during the ceremony.

In the meantime, Joe Leschisin, district administrator, offered to go over the commencement ground rules with County Health Officer Laura Sauve.

“She’s been good to work with and very supportive,” Leschisin said. “I’d feel better deferring to her.”

In other action at its regular monthly meeting Monday, June 22, the Cameron School Board:

• Hired Nicole Kohel as food service director (she is former Barron Area School District food service director); David Martin, middle school football coach; Jade Swant, who is transferring to age 4 pre-kindergarten; and Delaney Jinkins, science teacher for the Cameron Academy of Virtual Education.

• Paid May bills totaling $1,468,531.30.