McARTHUR — The Vinton County Board of Education voted to loosen masking protocols within the school district Monday evening.

The new guidelines allow students and staff to remove masks in classrooms and other areas in school buildings so long as appropriate social distancing occurs. However, students will still be required to wear masks on the bus, in hallways and in any building areas where social distancing cannot happen.

“Of course, if this increases the exposure and spread of the pandemic, we’ll reinstate it back to where we are,” Tom McManis, president of the Board, said during the meeting. “However, when the district reaches the point of where 100 cases per 1,000 residents occurs, optional masking across the district will occur.”

As of Tuesday, there are currently four cases of COVID-19 in students in the Vinton County Local School District. In its weekly update, the Vinton County Health Department reported 25 active cases countywide on Monday.

The change was unanimously approved by the Board.

Later during the meeting, Superintendent Rick Brooks congratulated and thanked outgoing Board President McManis and Board member Jeff Thacker for their service to the school board.

Thacker’s first year as a member of the Board of Education began Jan. 1, 1992, and he served seven times for a total of 28 years. He was president of the board for 24 years, Brooks said.

McManis’ first term began Jan. 1, 2006, and he served four consecutive terms. He served two years, 2020 and 2021, as president of the board.

Their current terms expire Dec. 31.

In other business, the Board approved 8th grade trips to Gettysburg, Harrisburg and Hershey, Pennsylvania, and voted to set Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. as the meeting time for the 2022 Tax Budget Hearing.

At this time, the board does not plan to hold a meeting in December.

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