The White Bear Area School Board closed its public forum on Monday night after parents showed up to the meeting maskless. One parent called out the hypocrisy, posting a photo of White Bear Lake area school employees maskless at an event earlier in September.
Marisa Vette, the director of community relations for White Bear Area Schools, referred The Minnesota Sun to a statement released by White Bear Area Schools regarding the school board meeting ending “earlier than anticipated.” The statement reads, “The decision was made to cancel the optional Public Forum and close the board meeting early after approving the consent agenda that contains items necessary for the operation of the School District.”
The statement goes on to blame parents and community members who had entered the meeting maskless. The statement reads, “These decisions were made because community members entered the board room without following COVID safety measures that were clearly communicated and posted, making the meeting unsafe for participants. There were community members in attendance who refused to wear masks or face coverings altogether, or refused to wear masks or face coverings over both their mouths and noses.”
The statement says all participants were offered masks and a separate room for those who wished to remain maskless where they could watch the board meeting via live stream, which would limit their participation.
The school board doubled down on its decision to require masking and said it hopes “that we can get back to safe and respectful board meetings at which the School Board can utilize Public Forum to hear directly from community members and can give the most important topics that appear on the board agenda the attention and discussion they deserve.”
A notice was posted on the meeting agenda and on the White Bear Lake Area Schools district website saying, “Per Policy 808, Face Coverings, masks are required for those who wish to attend the School Board meeting. A mask will be provided for anybody who needs one. To accommodate those who cannot wear a mask, the meeting will be available via Livestream and is viewable via Livestream in District Center Rooms 201 and 206.”
Policy 808 was passed at the August 23 school board meeting. The policy was passed at a work session that does not allow for public comment.
The policy reads: “all persons ages 2+ are required to wear a face covering when they are in any building that is owned, leased, or operated by or on behalf of the District and serves students from ages 2+, regardless of vaccination status in accordance with the District’s mitigation plan, unless an exemption or exception stated in District policy applies.”
Within the policy, they also allowed for the school board and superintendent to make health and safety changes without school board approval. The policy says that the superintendent can “implement different health and safety measures for the School District or any specific school buildings without School Board action.”
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Hayley Tschetter is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to [email protected].
Photo “school board meeting” by ISD624.