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CDC's New Mask Guidance In Schools Creates Tense Moments At Central Bucks Board Meeting

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (CBS) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending face masks in schools, even for those who are fully vaccinated. The issue of mask use created tense moments Tuesday night at a Bucks County school board meeting.

The board voted to keep the current return plan in place, not requiring masks for the upcoming year. However, students can opt to wear a mask if they choose.

On one side, parents who support the current school board's plan to reopen fully without a mask mandate, and on the other, parents who say that approach is dangerous given the latest CDC guidelines.

Two parents were shouting back and forth after one struck the other with a sign. It happened at a rally ahead of the Central Bucks School Board meeting on the district's current return-to-school plan.

"We are functioning at this time as if we are preparing for a pre-COVID school year," one woman said.

A key point of contention was, should students who are not vaccinated be required to wear masks?

"What is going to happen is school is going to be normal, nobody will be wearing masks," parent Jamie Walker said. "Masks are over."

"I would like children to be safe in schools," parent Kira Coviello said, "so if they are not of the age to be vaccinated, please have all the children masked."

Students, too, weighed in, including one rising junior who lives with her grandparents and wants the school board to require masks as new cases of the Delta variant are recorded.

"It's been difficult being online," Paree Pasi said. "Being away from my friends has taken a toll on my mental health, but if that means that I get to keep my grandparents, then it is worth it."

One group on the front lines since the pandemic started is the support staff.

"Today, I feel our community is divided when we should be coming together to support our kids," Deneen Dry, president of the Central Bucks ESPAFF, said.

While this vote likely will leave many frustrated, some suggest this decision will not, nor should be, final.

"Tonight, we are not voting on a permanent plan but a fluid measure based on the best science and data we currently have available," Dr. Marion Mass said.

The first day of school for Central Bucks students is Monday, Aug. 30.

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