CONWAY — A few citizens believe the Conway School District is going too far with its COVID-10 guidelines and made their feelings known to the Conway School Board during public comments via Zoom on Monday night.

Just three people — Linda Burns of Conway, and Kennett High seniors Jack Martin and Ty Montowski — attended the meeting in person, all wearing masks. The students presented a petition to allow students to attend indoor sporting events.

Zooming in, parent Wendy Richardson praised Martin and Montowski, and reminded the school board members that they work for the students.

“I'm proud of both of you," she said. "We need more students to stand up and say the things that you're saying because it's important. The school board works for you. They work for your parents, they work for the taxpayers, so they need to be listening to the people who are affected the most.”

Richardson spoke about the Centers for Disease Control’s Dec. 27 decision to reduce quarantine guidelines from 10 to five days.

“I'm just curious how many student days and teachers days have been lost to date due to the overly aggressive and unscientific (decision to quarantine for 10 days),” she asked. “(The Department of Health and Human Services) announced on Jan. 5 that it supports this reduction as well, so has SAU 9 implemented this yet or are they planning to?”

Richardson added: “The CDC also acknowledged that the PCR tests are incapable of distinguishing between COVID and flu. DHHS is suggesting that you use antigen tests instead of the PCR test. These PCR tests are not accurate. Will SAU 9 be communicating to parents that the antigen and the rapid tests are far better, or are they going to continue to the PCR tests going forward? These are all things I would ask you guys to keep into consideration.”

Parent Kevin Clifford of Madison has a son on the hockey team, which has been shut down for 10 days due to COVID cases.

“You've knocked down the hockey team for 10 days," he complained. "Us parents have paid a lot of money to have these guys playing, and you're using a flawed test. These guys, many are vaccinated, we know that, but they’re still testing positive for COVID. So there's a problem here. And you guys need to readjust your thinking in regard to this.”

He continued: “I keep hearing about these increased COVID cases. As Wendy did point out, we’ve got a problem now. The inventor of the PCR test says it was never designed to be a quantitative test. You can read his papers. He’s passed away now. The thing I don't understand is why do you continue to use this test and trot out these numbers for the fear factor when we don’t even know if these tests can differentiate between the flu. This was a statement from the CDC, they aren’t my words.”

He praised Martin and Montowski, saying, "Great job guys on the sporting issue, I completely support you on that issue,” he said. “I don't see that there's any reason we have this four-person limit (attendees per player) at the sporting events. I think there isn't any scientific data that backs up what's going on here and we've been two years into this."

Nella Thompson, a parent from Eaton, asked the board to “share with the community on a regular basis, the number of student and teacher days lost to the COVID-19 management policies.”

She added: “Is there a concern among the school board, the administration and the teachers that many students are falling behind in grade-level standards? What is being done to ensure the students are able to catch up with those lost days of learning as a result of the SAU’s policy relating to COVID? If it has anything to do with the state numbers from the last test scores, we’re in big trouble. Huge trouble. And I would like to say to the boys that I'm proud of you, too. It takes a lot of guts to get out and talk about something that makes other people uncomfortable. So good job. And let's go Eagles.”

Linda Burns, assistant emergency coordinator for Conway, who also serves as volunteer coordinator for the Carroll County Coalition for Public Health, said while she'd like to attend games, now is not the time.

“I work in public health now and seeing everything first-hand it’s pretty scary, it’s really scary,” she said.

Elizabeth Bouchard, student body president at Kennett High, also praised her classmates but agreed with Burns that the time is not right to open up sporting events to spectators.

“We all know how taxing this is on everyone and how tired we are ... there's a young boy at the high school going through chemo treatment right now, and he can't even have both of his parents in the room with him while he receives that treatment. And I just think that's something that should resonate with us.”

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