KINDERHOOK — Town Councilwoman Sally Hogan called on parents Wednesday to homeschool their children as a way of protesting mask and vaccination mandates.
A number of parents spoke out against the Ichabod Crane Central School District’s mask requirement and policy requiring vaccines for student athletes this winter. Hogan has been homeschooling her elementary-age son for two years. She claimed the COVID vaccination is a method of gene therapy.
Ichabod Crane, like all six school districts in Columbia County, requires students, staff and visitors to wear masks while in the school building, except during activities such as lunch.
All the county’s districts also require students who play indoor winter sports to be vaccinated, a policy school districts adopted which had been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Columbia County Department of Health.
“Along with my husband, we made the decision to homeschool because masking a child is abuse,” Hogan said. “I’ve shared the short- and long-term effects of masks, from potentially choking, to mental health problems to facial deformation. As a board you chose to ignore those facts from well-known doctors and continue to require them to attend school.”
The CDC has repeatedly issues statements that mask-wearing has no significant adverse health effects for wearers.
Hogan encouraged Ichabod Crane parents to pull their children from the school and homeschool them instead.
“I am asking you all to reconsider the requirement of masks and the requirement of this experimental gene therapy on our children,” Hogan said. “You’ve continued to make decisions in your financial interests rather than the interests of our children. I call on parents, if you must, make a statement, pull your child from Ichabod, sign up to homeschool and Ichabod will lose that funding for each child. If you need help, message me.”
Hogan said three parents have since reached out to her about homeschooling. She said the three intend to homeschool their children next year if there are vaccine requirements for all students.
“You can choose to not do this as a board,” Hogan said. “This shot is still not FDA-approved and is being administered under emergency use authorization. This shot you demand people get doesn’t protect you from infection.”
Ichabod Crane School Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow talked about her concerns for safety during the pandemic.
“The pandemic has created so many issues for schools out of the ordinary and this has obviously been a very difficult 18 months,” Guntlow said in a statement. “Our primary focus, however, has consistently been on the health and safety of our students, staff and the community. We have aligned our policies and procedures with the recommendations of the New York State Department of Education, the Columbia County Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.”
Guntlow said the alternative from the CDC would be to cancel winter sports.
“This guidance calls for either canceling high-risk sports or ensuring athletes are vaccinated at times of high transmission,” Guntlow said. “Vaccination not only reduces one’s risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, but also from experiencing severe cases that require hospitalization. Our goal is to continue all extracurricular activities and to keep our students as healthy and safe as possible so instruction can continue to occur where children learn best, in the classroom.”
Ichabod Crane Board of Education President Matthew Nelson said the board is committed to providing an opportunity for their students to be able to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities in an environment that is as healthy and safe as possible.
“The CDC guidelines state that in areas of high transmission, which currently includes Columbia County, sports should be canceled if participants are not fully vaccinated,” Nelson said in a statement. “In keeping with our commitment to allow activities to continue, and for the mental health benefit of our students, we are adhering to these recommendations by requiring vaccination for all winter athletes.”
“As the superintendent shared at the last board meeting, however, should the county drop below a high level of transmission — as identified by the CDC’s COVID Tracker — we will welcome student athletes who chose not to get vaccinated,” Nelson said. “As the numbers both nationally and locally appear to be on the decline, we hope that day comes sooner rather than later for our student athletes.”
The concerns voiced by parents at the board of education meeting at Ichabod on Wednesday are similar to concerns voiced at other school board meetings in the county. A number of parents spoke at a Chatham board of education meeting earlier this month with similar concerns.
Hogan is not running for reelection in November. The Kinderhook Republican Party did not nominate her at its caucus in June. This had been Hogan’s first term on the board.