Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In an effort to learn more about the 2021 Salida School Board candidates, Ark Valley Voice (AVV) has compiled multiple sets of questions that were distributed to each candidate. The questions and answers posed so far are all available in the AVV Education category here.  This is the fifth in the series of questions to reveal candidate positions on issues important to student success.

All candidates were given the same amount of time to complete the questions, as well as the same word count for their responses. Six of the eight candidates responded.

The fifth question asked by AVV ; “With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, when would you recommend moving the district into a mask mandate or requiring vaccines?”

Carrie Coscarella-Mattix’s Answer:

Image courtesy of Salida School District.

“The community, parents, students, and staff have a personal responsibility to protect themselves and others around them.  This starts with students and staff staying home when they are sick and getting tested if they have COVID symptoms. Social distancing and mask-wearing along with vaccines have been shown to reduce the spreading of the COVID virus and the severity of symptoms once you have it. It takes a village. Salida and the surrounding area is an amazing village. When the village takes responsibility for themselves and how their actions affect others, the village can thrive. If following a mask mandate if there is a breakout is going to get students back to school and learning, sports activities, the performing arts faster with fewer individuals getting sick and having complications, wearing a mask and supporting others, doesn’t seem like such a big deal.”

Jennifer Adamson’s Answer:

“I believe strongly in personal choice with masks and COVID vaccines. It’s the parent’s and students’ choice at school too. I don’t believe in Critical Race Theory. It takes away the freedoms and innocence from our students. I am a wife and a mom too.”

Jodi Breckenridge Petit’s Answer:

“I value our four district nurses.  They’ve mitigated our COVID exposures and positives with professional aptitude and caring hearts.  While I am most comfortable under a mask mandate, I listen and respond to CCPH and our nurses’ recommendations.”

“The Biden Administration is going to require all employers with over 100 employees to have mandatory COVID vaccinations, this includes the Salida School District. The board is awaiting the detailed implementation and timeline from the federal government. I support health exemptions and other exemptions, but I would prefer all of our staff and eligible students be vaccinated. I am vaccinated.”

Mandy Paschall’s Answer:

“The responsibility of the school board is to keep all kids safe, and thus may have to encourage stricter safety measures than parents might feel are necessary for their own individual children. Mask mandates should be put in place if data indicates we have increased transmission, and the recommendations are coming from school nurses and medical professionals in collaboration with public health. In my mind, this is not a black and white decision, but rather requires the school board to constantly evaluate the pros and cons of mask-wearing in our school system.

Currently, the following vaccines are mandated to enter school: Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTap), Inactivated poliovirus (IPV), Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), Varicella (chickenpox), Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap). If the COVID vaccine is FDA approved for all school-aged children and added to the list of required school vaccines, I would support that. I also am cognizant of medical and non-medical exemptions to vaccines and believe those should be honored.”

Joe Smith’s Answer:

“We have been successfully navigating COVID as a District since the onset of the pandemic. We have done this so successfully by building and maintaining strong relationships with our community partners at Chaffee County Public Health, HRRMC, Solvista, and other medical professionals. We have also enhanced our nursing staffing and communications with leadership in order to be proactive in mitigating any identified cases. We will continue to work with these community partners and relying on their expertise to guide our decisions as we have done the past 18 + months. We will also continue to work with various school resources like CASB (Colorado Association of School Boards) and legal counsel when appropriate, to be able to understand how and when to implement the various State and Federal laws that are continuously evolving as well.”

Jeannie Peters’ Answer:

“I have no doubt that our students learn and develop best in face-to-face education.  And according to the American Academy of Pediatricians as of October 7, 2021, six million children in the United States have tested positive for COVID. Twenty-three thousand of those have been hospitalized.  Five hundred and forty-two of those children died from COVID.  Research shows that anywhere from ten to twenty percent of those children who have had COVID will go on to develop long COVID with sometimes devastating disabilities.”

“Managing the risk of infection to our children and our staff is a complicated, incredibly stressful, time and resource-demanding, long-term effort on the behalf of our nurses, Superintendent Blackburn, and Andrea Carlstrom and her staff at Chaffee County Public Health.  These people are all heroes in this high stake, risky process as they manage the tension between education and keeping our kids and community healthy.  They are testing symptomatic children or staff quickly and keeping them at home.  When there is potential exposure, they are using the tools of testing, tracing, (and if necessary remote learning) to protect from further spread of the virus.  They are encouraging vaccination and wearing masks and will switch to a mask mandate dependent upon the current circumstances within a school or the whole district.  I applaud and am deeply thankful for their daily efforts.”