Arizona School Board Bolts as Parents Protest Decision to Keep Mask Mandate

Students in fifth grade wear masks as they wait for their teacher in the classroom at Oak Terrace Elementary School in Highwood, Ill., part of the North Shore school district, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. An analysis conducted by The Associated Press and Chalkbeat shows that race is a strong …
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

More than a hundred parents arrived at the Vail Unified School District meeting Tuesday night to urge the Arizona board to lift its mask mandate, only to find school board members had suddenly canceled the meeting, claiming safety concerns due to the parents’ rally.

Parents intended to object to the school board’s decision to keep a coronavirus mask mandate in place, despite Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R) executive order on April 19 that lifted the mask mandate in K-12 schools.

According to the Election Wizard website:

A throng of parents later pushed their way into the board room while refusing to wear masks and demanded to speak with their elected officials.

In response, the Vail board called 911, and Pima County Sheriff Nanos told KGUN 9, a sergeant and four deputies showed up in just over a minute.

The district said the sheriff told the board to adjourn the study session because the crowd was uncontrollable.

But the Sheriff says that’s false, the board made that decision on their own, and crowd control was not an issue.

KVOA News reporter Eric Fink tweeted video of parents demanding to know why the school board walked off and left the sheriff’s deputy to try to explain its decision:

“They [school board] have the audacity to leave when we come here as peaceful parents to talk to them?” one parent said.

KNST AM 790 also reported that after the board left the meeting, parents convened under Robert’s Rules of Order and voted in a new school board, which proceeded to vote to end the school district’s mask mandate.

“This has no merit as school board members must be elected in an actual election,” Fink tweeted.

StevenTyler Daniels posted a video on Facebook of the parents’ meeting:

Vail School Board violates Arizona open meeting law, refuse to hear from the people, and goes home. So, the People hold quorum, call their own meeting to order, elect a new School Board, and immediately vote to CANCEL the mask mandate – along with voting to disallow any medical procedure being forced on the children or employees.This is how you take back power from a tyrannical government. Great work to the parents of the students in Vail School Disrict.#WeThePeople #PatriotPartyOfArizona With Michelle Dillard – President of Purple For Parents

Posted by StevenTyler Daniels on Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Ducey said in a statement regarding his executive order to lift the Arizona school mask mandate that about two million people in the state “are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with many teachers and school faculty now fully vaccinated after being some of the first in line for vaccine prioritization.”

The governor continued:

Teachers, families and students have acted responsibly to mitigate the spread of the virus and protect one another, and our school leaders are ready to decide if masks should be required on their campuses. We will continue to work with public health professionals and Arizona’s schools as more students return to the classroom and our state moves forward.

He added his executive order was consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent update to its school guidelines in relation to the coronavirus.

While Ducey said he was lifting the K-12 mask mandate, he also added, “K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread, including the use of masks.”

A report at KOLD News 13 noted that most school districts in southern Arizona were intending to keep their mask mandates through the end of the school year.

Vail Unified Superintendent John Carruth said Wednesday many in the crowd of parents were from outside the school district.

Carruth said, according to KGUN 9 News:

Unfortunately a group of people who live outside of our county attempted to take over the Board meeting last night, leaving our actual parents without the opportunity to address the board. This pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, but we cannot let it take our civility. Our students deserve more from us.

“Last night was not a good night for the Vail School District … the Vail community, but we can overcome tough things,” he added. “We know how to do that. We know how to pull together as a community. We’ve done that for years and I expect … fully expect that we’ll be able to [do] that in regards to this issue.”

Carruth reportedly said open board meetings will continue, and he expects to reschedule the canceled meeting, likely for next Wednesday.

KGUN 9 also reported that the Pima County Sheriff’s Department recommended the Tanque Verde superintendent cancel its district school board meeting, citing safety concerns.


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