There was an argument regarding federal mask mandates at the regular meeting of the Brandon-Evansville School Board on Monday, Aug. 16.

Board member Kent Huisman said the district should not have to follow the mandate because it isn't "logical."

Although students are not required to wear masks in school itself, the mandate says they will be required to do so when they are riding the school bus.

Superintendent Don Peschel said districts that do not follow the mandate will be fined $250 for the first offense, and up to $1,500 for repeat offenses.

Don Peschel
Don Peschel

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"All the schools have to do it, whether it's public or private," added Mary Pohlmann, Nelson Bus Service director.

"We're just giving in," Huisman said.

"Kent, if it was left up to me, I would say no," Pohlmann said. "Do you want to pay the fines?"

Pohlmann said that if a student refuses to wear a mask on the bus, "either they're not riding, or mom and dad can pay the fine if there is one. I'm not paying a fine."

It was also pointed out that if the district did not comply, it would likely open itself to a legal battle.

"Bring it on, put us on the map," Huisman said. "It'd be the best thing that ever happened to this school."

"Do you want me to lose my license?" Peschel asked.

"There's more of you," Huisman said.

Peschel said that while he agreed with Huisman's stance on the issue, there was little that could be done.

"We are a federally- and state-funded operation, and this is a mandate," Peschel said. "I can't interject my personal opinions or ideologies in this."

Students will not be required to wear masks in the classroom, and there will be no social distancing during the school day.

Additionally, vaccines are not being required for students or staff.

Indoor air quality project

The school board also heard an update on the indoor air quality project and HVAC for the Brandon School.

The project entails installing new boilers, heating/cooling, ceilings, lighting and some other facial improvements.

Jeff Flettre of ICS Consulting said he is hoping the project will be finished by mid-October, but that much of the work is already done, including the gymnasium.

The project is waiting on some chilled beams and HVAC equipment that have not made it out of customs in Chicago, Flettre said.

"We talked with the state inspector," he said. "They're fine with us opening as long as we've got ceilings in, lights on (and) sprinkler systems charged. … Just keep in mind, it's not going to be as pretty a start as everyone hoped."

Crews will probably be working from noon-7 p.m. after school starts. They will work in the boiler rooms until school gets out, and then work in the classrooms, Flettre said.

"We'll get through it, but like I said, it's not going to be ideal," he said.

Flettre said classroom furniture will be moved back in on Aug. 31, in time for the open house that is being held on Sept. 1.

"During that open house there will be some corridors in that lower level where the ceilings won't be complete," he said.

Everything that is accessible by the students should be complete by the time school starts, he added.

The completion of "99 percent" of the project will not interfere with day-to-day school functions, Flettre said.