School board affirms transparency and fact that masks are voluntary

MANTI—Critical Race Theory was defined at a South Sanpete School District board meeting last Wednesday. 

Over 40 parents, and several children, attended the meeting to make sure the district did not intend to teach the theory in any of its schools.

The school board read a prepared statement declaring that the district was completely transparent in its curriculum, and teachers did not have any concealed agendas, such as critical race theory, in their teaching.

The statement reads: “EDUCATIONAL EQUALITY STATEMENT—As parents and patrons of the South Sanpete School District, we want you to know our position and stance. Therefore, we want to read this statement prior to public comment.  

“As the South Sanpete School District School Board, we are committed to providing educational equality and access to learning for every student. We will ensure that all students are supported with resources and provided with safe environments for learning in every school. Therefore, we OPPOSE the academic ideas considered to be Critical Race Theory (CRT).

“The South Sanpete School District has never approved Critical Race Theory (CRT), and we do NOT teach Critical Race Theory (CRT) or other divisive theories in our schools. If anything is ever taught in our schools or classes that is questionable, we ask that you work with the school administration in this process. 

“At any time, parents can ask to view a teacher’s curriculum. We want our schools and curriculum to be transparent to parents, as has been in the past and will continue in the future.  

“We believe we all want the same thing. So, our kids are safe, protected, and not exposed to inappropriate curriculum or materials.  Our kids and grandkids attend these schools too.

“Every one of us on the school board are graduates of the South Sanpete School District schools.

We have a long-term vested interest in our schools and communities.

“And we care DEEPLY about students and providing them with all the tools and education to be successful.

“Our Commitment as the South Sanpete School District School Board of Education is to provide educational equality and access to learning for every student. We will ensure that all students are supported with resources and provided with a safe and appropriate curriculum and environments for learning in every school.”

Parents at the board meeting were opposed to any teachers propounding the idea that one race was inherently better than any other. The school board agreed.

Wikipedia introduces critical race theory (CRT) by asking, “Is CRT a way of understanding how American racism has shaped public policy, or a divisive discourse that pits people of color against white people? 

“The events of the last decade have increased public awareness about things like housing segregation, the impacts of criminal justice policy in the 1990s, and the legacy of enslavement on Black Americans. But there is much less consensus on what the government’s role should be in righting these past wrongs. Add children and schooling into the mix and the debate becomes especially volatile.”

Parents were concerned by a recent vote of the Utah Board of Education that used the word “equality,” and apparently the word “Equity” has been tied to CRT. The board explained the statement, and affirmed that equality means just what it says, “We are all equal.”

The parents were also concerned about the districts mask policy. Several parents said they didn’t believe the health department or CDC’s claims that masks protect against COVID-19. Stephanie Whitney said it is the parent’s responsibility, not the district, to made decisions for children’s protection. 

Alexis Sorensen said, “Masks are ineffective and actually promote viruses. Wearing masks is abusive to children; viruses go right through masks; also there is no benefit from the vaccination, Nazis used the same tactics to spread Spanish Flu; children don’t die from COVID-19 and there have been back to school events that promoted vaccinations.”

Britton Smith said, “We don’t believe in Draconian or intrusive policies. We don’t believe teachers should promote LGBTQ with rainbow flags. We believe our children have the right to breathe; we think the district made mistakes with its COVID-19 policies last year. We don’t want our children tested for COVID-19; and we want to make sure if the district doesn’t mandate masks, it won’t change its mind later on.”

Two children, Treygan Distefano and Alyssa Whitney also spoke, saying it was hard to speak and be heard while wearing masks at school.

Following the parents and students remarks, the board responded that current state law, by the Utah legislature, said schools “cannot mandate wearing masks,” and that students may wear masks if they choose, or not, if they choose. 

“Of course, the legislature may change the law, but right now we are required and agree to follow the law that is currently written,” said board chairman Grant Hansen. The board also reviewed current COVID guidelines.

In other matters, the district noted that there were zero ejections from Gunnison Valley and Manti High Schools last year. The district also reviewed return to school policies and SafeUT usage statistics.