DC School Board Saturday session regarding upcoming ETS draws vocal crowd

By Jacob Wandersee

Approximately 150 people were on hand for Dassel-Cokato’s special school board meeting that took place on Saturday at 9 am. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss policy 491, a potential new district policy regarding the upcoming OSHA ETS (Emergency Temporary Standard).

According to Superintendent Mark Raymond, this ETS will affect two-thirds of private businesses and around 84 million people. Currently, at the time of this writing, the mandate is being deliberated upon in the Supreme Court. These deliberations started on Friday morning, as the justices determine if this mandate is constitutional.

The federal mandate would call for any employer in the country with over 100 employees to require employees to either be vaccinated or wear a mask and later in February begin to test weekly.

There are three different potential outcomes that can occur. First, the court could not make a ruling by Monday, which is the most likely option. This would in effect put the mandate in place across the country until they make an official decision.

Otherwise, the court could either make an official ruling of stay, meaning it is enacted and deemed appropriate or they could deem it unconstitutional, officially putting an end to the ETS.

As a part of the meeting, the board, per usual, had an open forum. During this time, around 25 different people spoke to the board, sharing their opinions and beliefs about the ETS, COVID-19, vaccines, masks and the government.

Generally, the bulk of the comments were opposed to the ETS. Many also implored the board to take a stand against the government and ignore any potential court rulings, citing individual freedom as the primary reason.

After almost two hours, the board ended the open forum. As far as Policy 491, the board decided to enter a closed session to try to consult legal counsel regarding a plan of action.

Around 45 minutes later, the board returned to reopen the meeting, sharing that they were unable to contact legal. The board decided to table Policy 491 in an official motion until they could consult legal.

This action caused a stir in the audience who opposed this motion with multiple audience members even calling for the dismissal of Superintendent Raymond.

As it stands now, the district, along with every business with over 100 employees, will have staff members either prove vaccination status or be asked to wear a mask on Monday until the court makes an official ruling.

Raymond is working to connect with the district’s legal counsel in order to schedule a time for a potential emergency board meeting to further discuss Policy 491.

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