School board members decided to hold off on making a decision regarding a petition for a special meeting on face coverings.
During its Oct. 5 meeting, board members tabled a discussion on the petition and instead discussed surveying families and guardians of children to gather opinions.
Schools opened in Londonderry with a mask optional policy in place, but a COVID-19 matrix is also being used to gauge virus transmission in the community and levels of new cases that could spur a change in how masking is handled.
Board member Bob Slater did support moving forward with a special meeting, saying he wanted to hear from the public as the topic has been a divisive one.
“People have spoken on both sides and we get it,” Slater said. “We are trying to run a school district and do the best we can for the 26,000 people in this town who show up on election day to vote. It would speak to the entire community. But this has virtually torn our community apart. I think it’s worth doing.”
Londonderry officials have faced a lot of public interaction in past weeks, both for and against the business of the district, mostly the mask-wearing policy and the recent choice of two new board members, Nancy Hendricks and Greg DePasse.
Hendricks agreed the masking issue has been a divisive topic, and board chairman Amy Finemore said she didn’t agree with holding a special meeting.
“We’re not required to adhere to voter decisions,” she said.
District counsel Gordon Graham said the petition had the required and legal amount of signatures — 50 — making it a valid document, but the board has the legal right to conduct the business of the district.
The process of holding a special meeting could also be a lengthy one, Graham added.
That would include holding a deliberative session to discuss the special meeting’s topic and then hold an official ballot vote, with the typical election expenses involved. In this case, it could cost about $12,000.
And any outcome would be advisory only, with the board making a final determination.
The board will take up the discussion on a survey at a future meeting.