CHARLES TOWN—At a special Saturday Zoom meeting, Jefferson County Board of Health members voted 4 to 0 in favor of a resolution to clarify that county health officer Dr. Terrence Reidy didn’t represent them when he spoke at a recent Board of Education meeting on mask wearing in schools. 

Board of Health member Ann Smith wasn’t present at Saturday’s meeting. 

The special meeting was in response to the Board of Education’s August 20 ruling, requiring face coverings be worn by all children and employees while in Jefferson County schools and other school district buildings, which also included wearing masks while on school buses. Dr. Reidy spoke to the Board of Education members before they made their decision. The ruling will be in effect at least until September 27.

Dr. Reidy told Board of Health members his responsibility is to give advice “in lots of situations.”

He said he did not say he represented the board during his appearance at the August 20 meeting. In the past, Dr. Reidy has said he does not have the authority to mandate mask wearing as he is not an elected official.

Board of Health member Elliot Simon, who proposed Saturday’s resolution, said he had problems with mask wearing. He cited the physician’s credo, “first do no harm,” adding his concerns that face coverings depleted oxygen in the blood. Dr. Reidy asked Simon to present evidence to him, backing his statement.

Board of Health chairwoman Karen Bailey Chapman said Saturday’s meeting was held to get input from parents about the mask-wearing mandate. The Zoom meeting was well attended. The meeting had reached capacity for audience participation with about 100 parents, doctors and even school employees listening in or reacting in the chat room. Board of Health members heard remarks from about 24 people in the public comment portion of the meeting with about 13 in favor of masks and 11 not.    

Requiring that masks be worn in school has been a controversial issue nationwide. The differing and emotional opinions heard Saturday attest to the fact that the subject is controversial in Jefferson County as well. 

Simon’s concerns about requiring face coverings in schools prompted his resolution specifying that the Board of Health is not responsible for the Board of Education members’ mask ruling. 

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