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UPSD Board President Recesses Meeting after Seven Minutes
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

McCarrick Addresses COVID-19 Concerns from Audience


Upper Perkiomen School Board Member Keith McCarrick addresses concerned

citizens outside of the Middle School after the UPSD Boardrecessed their meet-

ing due to masking concerns.


            As Thursday's Upper Perkiomen School Board regular meeting ended after just seven minutes, Keith McCarrick became the momentary target for a group of residents angry about the district's facemask policy. As he walked towards the edge of the Middle School auditorium stage Thursday night, McCarrick was deluged with comments.

            "Why are you wearing the mask?" one person asked.

            After moving to the floor, McCarrick attempted to engage the crowd verbally. Intent on addressing their concerns, he pulled the mask down around his neck. As the shouting continued, the school board member then moved the discussion outside.

            For approximately 80 minutes, McCarrick spoke with a group of parents, residents and students. Standing in front of the main entrance along Montgomery Avenue, he held court with approximately 40 people. He allowed some to express their frustration with the decision by board President Melanie Cunningham to quickly end the meeting. Others stated their opposition to forcing their children to wear masks in school. Several argued that the choice should be left to the parents.

            "This was a pathetic evening," said Nate Curley, a Pennsburg barber, who described the wearing of face masks ineffective to stopping the virus and claimed it damaged the immune function of the wearer. "There was more done outside the building than inside it."

            The meeting will resume at 7 p.m. on Tuesday on Zoom, according to Cunningham.

            Prior to presenting her comments as board president Thursday, Cunningham asked multiple audience members not wearing face masks to comply with a recent order issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health due to rising COVID-19 cases and put one on. The council president then asked to entertain a motion to recess the meeting.

            The request drew multiple howls from the audience. A man sitting in the second row with his sunglasses resting on his head said he couldn't hear what Cunningham was saying through her mask.

            "You're only making us more mad," one person said.

            "You won't have any kids to teach," another said.

            "You guys work for us," said a third individual.

            After numerous attempts amid shouting between the audience and the members, the recess vote passed. McCarrick cast the lone opposing vote.

            Standing outside, amid the presence of two state troopers, McCarrick told the crowd he wears the masks during meetings so he can participate. The member described himself as anti-mask and anti-COVID vaccine.  "(Wearing a mask) sucks," he said. "I don't think they are necessary. Everyone should have the choice."

            McCarrick told the crowd that the board decided to move the meeting to an electronic format because the audience did not allow everyone to participate in an orderly manner. Asked by a person in the crowd what it would take for their voices to be heard, the board member suggested that they comply with the mask mandates.

            Numerous crowd members objected. "That's not going to work," one man said. "That's what we're here to oppose."

            Several mothers and fathers said they wanted the option to allow their children to wear a mask in school. Vicki Lightcap told her husband that the board should permit parents to declare an exception or exemption. A doctor's note is currently required, according to McCarrick.

            Ted Pastore, a Pennsburg resident, described Cunningham's decision to call a recess as premeditated. He argued that masks for children should be an option because they are relatively unaffected by the virus.

            "COVID is real and harmful to certain people with the average age of 75," said Pastore, a supervisor at Wal-Mart in Upper Hanover, who has four children attending four different buildings in the district.

            Pastore, who declined to say if he has been vaccinated for the virus said "that's none of your business" - asserting that the flu was more virulent than the Delta variant. He also claimed that only 300 children 18 and under have died during the pandemic. 






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