The White Bear Lake Area School Board prematurely terminated its most recent meeting after a group of parents entered the room without masks.
The board said in a statement that parents who “entered the board room without following COVID-19 safety measures” made last week’s meeting “unsafe” because they “refused to wear masks or face coverings over both their mouths and noses.” This defied the school district’s coronavirus “mitigation plan,” which requires that all students, staff and visitors over the age of two wear masks at all times when on school property — regardless of vaccination status.
A recording of the meeting shows that the board performed its necessary functions to approve an agenda that allows the district to operate before adjourning early, canceling a public forum. The unmasked parents apparently planned to use this public forum to voice their discontent with the coronavirus-related rules imposed on their children.
“It has come to our attention tonight … there are individuals in attendance at this point in time that are not masked,” said presiding member Kim Chapman. “As a result we are not going to have public forum tonight and will move on in terms of closing the meeting.”
After this occurred, some attendees spoke out on social media, saying they felt the board unfairly silenced parents.
“A few people came down to the meeting unmasked,” one attendee reported via Facebook. “Without warning they [the board] voted to end the meeting over that … A lot of people wanted to use that meeting as an opportunity to speak face to face with the board over various issues we are concerned about and their canceling of the entire meeting in the way they did was very harsh.”
White Bear Lake schools decided on Aug. 23 that all students will have to wear masks, The Minnesota Sun reports. This decision was made during a closed “work session” after weighing “the potential social, political, and financial costs associated with requiring masks,” according to a district document. The board said this decision was necessary because “the virus continues to mutate.”
Some have pointed out that a large group of new teachers were pictured maskless indoors right around the same time the policy was passed.
This decision is in step with policies enforced by many other Minnesota schools. The state’s biggest districts — Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth among them — all require their students to wear masks. However, Gov. Tim Walz has not enforced a blanket mask mandate for all schools, much to the chagrin of some parents who recently sued him over this.