By Guy Page
Longtime Vermont mandatory mask opponent Amy Hornblas has been rebuked by a Northeast Kingdom school superintendent for seeking to overturn the required masking policy in the elementary school in the tiny town of Newark.
Vermont school districts have authority to implement, or not implement, mask mandates. Most dropped them earlier this year.
“Last March, the Vermont Agency of Education urged schools to drop their mask mandates,” Hornblas – a Washington County resident – wrote in a letter to the Kingdom East Supervisory District, which includes Newark. “Governor Scott told reporters that mental health concerns contributed to the decision to stop recommending face masks. “The ongoing strain on our kids’ mental health is far outweighing the risk from Covid amongst this age group.” In September I learned that Newark School was once again imposing mask mandates on staff and students.”
When the Vermont Daily Chronicle called the school to confirm details of the mandatory masking policy, a spokesperson said “I’m not going to talk about any of that” and instructed me to contact the superintendent’s office. A voicemail was left, so as of 12:30 PM no answer has been received. The school’s Facebook page shows some students masked, some not.
A letter to the editor from Hornblas and an email to her from Supt. Jennifer Botzojorns appear below.
A year and a half after the lifting of mask mandates in most public places, many people believe the masks are “finally going away.” However, for an unknown number of students and staff across the U.S., this is not the case. The U.S. Department of Education is encouraging schools to use civil rights disability laws to require masks for specific students and staff. At least one school in Vermont has been using this law to mask several classrooms and settings since September.
Please find attached a letter I sent this week to the KESD school board concerning their decision to continue masking students at Newark School, and their response to the FOIA I gave them in September. It outlines how the laws are being used to force masks on the very people most likely to be harmed by them.
Below is the response I received from the superintendent.
Please feel free to forward my letter to anyone who can use it. As you can see, we need to break the silence around this issue and help those families and staff who are suffering alone across the country.
———- Forwarded message ———
From: Jennifer Botzojorns
Date: Mon, Dec 19, 2022 at 2:45 PM
Subject: recent letter
Dear Ms. Hornblas,
Thank you for copying me on the correspondence to the Kingdom East School Board.
I make the Kingdom East operational decisions regarding the topics you discuss. You do not live in our District, nor do your children attend our schools. We have a process whereby if individuals directly impacted want to provide feedback they speak to the teacher or adult involved, then the principal, superintendent and Board (in that order).
I have asked our Board to not hear any more public comment (written or spoken) from you; you are not included in their governance oversight. Additionally, if individuals in this District are directly impacted by a topic, our Board refers them to the procedural and operational chain of command described above.
I wish you a happy holiday,
Dr. Jennifer Botzojorns, Superintendent of SchoolsKingdom East- Burke~Concord~Lunenburg/Gilman~Lyndon~Miller’sRun~ Newark~Sutton
Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.