School board meeting is taken over by public comment after announcing mask requirement

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 10:25 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - More than 100 people attended tonight’s Eau Claire Area School District board meeting. Many of them intending to participate in the public comment portion of the agenda. Before the meeting, people lined a street outside the administration building for a ‘make masks optional’ rally.

At last week’s school board meeting, three parents participated in the public comment portion of the night, all three asking ECASD to require masks for the school year. Four days ago, the district announced all staff and students in pre-k through 8th grades will have to wear masks indoors.

In Monday night’s meeting, 18 people signed up to voice their opinion on that requirement. The vast majority spoke in opposition of masks, however, a few came to thank the district for the decision.

The boardroom was overflowing with people for this week’s meeting. People told the board members they needed to get a larger room. They said they were unhappy with the overflow space they were provided.

Once public comment finally began about an hour after the meeting was supposed start, due to technical difficulties, people did exactly as board president Tim Nordin requested and that was to be respectful to all speakers.

“Every health decision should be held to the individual and their family not the school board,” one woman said.

“Some children will have very adverse effects of COVID and that’s tragic, but we can’t use a blanket statement when we can make accommodations,” another woman said.

“I am one of 158 people who signed a petition to ask for universal district masking policy this fall. The American Academy of Pediatrics including other organizations including our local health department are asking the district to make these choices,” another woman said.

Several parents expressed plans to pull their children from the district if the mask mandate stays in place.

Another item on Monday’s agenda was a vote to approve the referendum timeline which is proposed for November of 2022. The potential timeline brought to the board by the administration was unanimously approved. Meaning, its slated for the vote November 8th of 2022, and construction could begin as early as summer of 2023.

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