(Grand Forks, ND) — It took a couple of hours, but the Grand Forks Public School District’s Board of Education voted Monday night to keep masking as a strong recommendation, despite calls from board members to pass a universal mask mandate across the district. School Board Vice President Amber Flynn told fellow board members that she believes public health professionals “are practically begging us to mandate masks.”

Multiple votes took place before the final decision was made. The original vote, which would require universal masking across the board and revisit the discussion at semester break, failed by a 7-1 margin. A second vote, which would require universal masking, but have the situation revisited October 20th, passed 5-3. A subsequent amendment to the vote came to the table — to only apply the mandate to students up to grade six — failed 6-2, sending the vote back to the mandatory universal masking until October 20, failed on a 4-4 vote, per parliamentary procedure.

Board member Shannon Mikula requested the district conduct an administrative assessment of the fiscal impact to the district in the event a number of classrooms shut down due to COVID-19.

Another meeting will be held on Monday, August 23, Flynn says. The request by Mikula will be a part of the discussion.