HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio (WDTN) – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Huber Heights City Schools (HHCS) called an emergency meeting Monday to update their COVID-19 guidelines. Board members said they will not be mandating masks after hearing opinions from parents, however, a major staffing issue throughout the district remains, something that needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.

“We have to stop masking the symptom and focus on fixing the problem, a staffing shortage,” said HHCS parent Michael Humphrey. “We have to begin the process of accepting what the medical community is advising is living with the virus, it’s not going away.”

Tempers flared in Monday night’s board meeting, some parents pleading with board members to not mandate masks while others demanded everyone to mask up. Superintendent Mario Basora said the district has 121 positive cases, 40 of which are among staff members. Just before Christmas, they only reported five cases across the district.

“We’re really concerned about the numbers right now affecting the safety of students and staff in our building but also operations of the district,” said Basora.

Board members voted on several suggestions, including mandating masks, remote learning for one week as data is updated, and changing the quarantine guidelines to reflect the CDC’s. The only approved change was updating quarantine guidelines.

Parents advocated for major changes in the system’s financial plans to fix the staff shortage by offering more money as incentives to come teach at HHCS, using tutors as a temporary buffer system and more.

“I personally can’t thank the board enough for always putting the kids first in their minds whether it’s their opinion or mine,” said HHCS parent Angela Fannin. “We are Huber Heights, we are a very diverse community with many opinions, many different thoughts in our community so it’s so important to leave it up to choice.”

Right now masking remains optional for students and staff but if cases continue to rise, another emergency meeting may be called.

“We’re all here for our kids, I believe in dialogue and I believe through those discussions that the truth will come out and reach the right decision for our community and for our kids,” said Basora.

Right now masks remain optional across Huber Heights schools. Board members said they will be keeping an eye on Charles Huber Elementary School cases to see if they need to go virtual for a week like Valley Forge Elementary School.