ATHENS — The Athens School Board meeting at SRU Elementary ended abruptly on Tuesday night as a member of the public refused to wear a mask while attempting to speak to the board during the visitor comment section.

As school board president John Johnson opened the floor to the public, he reminded those in attendance that “it is the state that says that we have to wear masks in the building,” and he asked everyone to “please abide by that.”

Despite Johnson’s request several people in attendance were unmasked, including the first person to stand for public comment. Johnson informed the individual once again that a mask must be worn, but the resident ignored Johnson and continued walking toward the podium.

Before the unmasked gentleman could speak, Johnson called for a motion to adjourn, and a second, at which point the board began packing up and exiting the room.

After the meeting Johnson said that he and the board stand by the statement that they put out during their Sept. 14 meeting, which stated that the board and the district will not be taking any action against the state’s mandates at this time.

“We just need people to understand that this is not our rule,” Johnson said. “We cannot pick and choose which rules we want to follow or not follow ... we may or may not agree with a rule, but we have to follow them.”

The September statement also recommended that residents take their concerns to their local state representatives, and Johnson himself said he has been contacting State Rep. Tina Pickett to have his voice heard on the matter.

Johnson ended by saying that the most important factor for the board and the district continues to be the education of the students.

“We just need to educate our students,” said Johnson, “and there’s all kinds of other stuff going on that’s distracting us from that.”

During the Tuesday’s meeting, fourth grade teacher Richard Macik gave a presentation on the new touch screen digital display boards that are now standard in every AASD classroom.

Macik explained that the digital boards have their own independent operating system, but that he can also screen cast from his laptop or any other digital device.

Much more than a replacement for white boards and projectors, Macik demonstrated how the digital boards also allow students to take turns playing interactive, educational games.

“You can have kids doing problems at the same time,” Macik said. “So I can have like three kids working here all at the same time, drawing, erasing, whatever they’re doing.”

According to Athens Superintendent Craig Stage, these new digital boards are now in every classroom from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Erik Berggren can be reached at erikb@morning-times.com or (570) 888-9643 ext. 231.

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