Hermon School Department Superintendent Jim Chasse appears during a special meeting of the school committee at Hermon High School on Monday. The committee voted to make masks optional for students. Credit: David Marino Jr. / BDN

The Hermon School Committee will decide Monday whether to give its superintendent authority to change COVID-19 protocols in response to changing virus conditions.

The vote will come a week after the committee’s 4-1 vote last week not to require students to wear masks in school buildings, which followed extended debate from parents.

The committee’s vote on giving Superintendent Jim Chasse additional authority will take place at a 5 p.m. emergency meeting at Hermon High School.

Chasse said he asked the board to give him the authority to make adjustments concerning whether students in certain schools wear masks if, for example, there were to be an outbreak of the disease.

“We have 1,300 students coming back to school who haven’t been together in months,” Chasse said. “I need the authority to make decisions on the ground if conditions warrant an adjustment.”

While the school committee has voted to make masks optional, the town’s schools will use pool testing to track cases and avoid student quarantines, the board decided Aug. 16.

School boards throughout Maine have been deciding recently whether to require that students and staff wear masks for the school year that starts in the next few weeks amid a rise in coronavirus cases and the more infectious delta variant.

Schools in Bangor, Brewer, Orono, Milford and the Bucksport area are among those in and around Penobscot County that will require masking.

The RSU 22 Board, that includes Hampen, Winterport, Newburgh and Frankfort, will hold an emergency meeting Tuesday after it incorrectly tabulated members’ votes on a policy making masks optional for students. That measure would have narrowly failed if votes had been counted correctly.

Brewer initially had made masks optional for the coming school year but changed course late last week in response to rising virus cases and a Department of Education policy that allows students exposed to COVID-19 cases to forgo quarantines as long as there’s universal masking and students aren’t showing symptoms.