Chesapeake School Board meets for first time since mandatory mask decision, 6 schools move to virtual learning

Posted at 4:53 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 06:10:37-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – Monday night’s meeting was the first one since board members made the decision to go back to mandatory masking for all students and since Friday’s announcement to switch to virtual learning for five days at six schools due to rising COVID-19 cases.

Board members and parents got an update from the health department on COVID numbers. The city reportedly remains at a high transmission rate; according to the health department, the seven-day positivity rate is almost 50%.

This Thursday, parents will get an update on whether the six schools, where COVID cases are high, will remain virtual for another five days or go back to in-person learning.

Parents were also concerned over how the special meeting on New Year’s Eve unfolded.

“The meeting on New Year’s Eve was an embarrassment in multiple ways,” said community member Ms. Nichols.

Some frustration from the contentious meeting on New Year’s Eve spilled into the first school board meeting of the new year.

“Things got ridiculous, and I think you made the right choice to go to closed session,” one parent said.

Lynn Davidson of Chesapeake called out one of the board members for comments apparently made after last month’s meeting.

“First of all, how dare you. How dare you,” Davidson said. “You sit here on a public school board and tell parents to homeschool their children or enroll them in charter schools? How dare you.”

At that fiery meeting on Dec. 31, 2021, there were outbursts and outrage from parents over masks.

The Chesapeake School Board reversed its decision to make masks optional for students, making them mandatory once again.

Monday night, some parents spoke out against the move.

“I don’t know why you changed course,” said parent Dan Tomblin. “I thought for once you grew a backbone and showed some leadership.”

The meeting also comes on the heels of social media threats that were allegedly directed at school board members after the rollback on masks.

Newly- elected School Board Chairman Harry Murphy addressed those threats at the start of the meeting.

“Any threat to any school board member is a threat to every school board member,” Murphy said. “Every threat to any member of this board, or the superintendent or his staff will be turned over to the Chesapeake Police for investigation.”

In a statement, CPS Director of Communications Chris Vail said, “Chesapeake Public Schools is aware of concerning comments on social media about our school board members and has shared them with the Chesapeake Police Department. We take these matters seriously and we appreciate when our students, parents, staff, and community members bring this type of information to our attention. The safety of our students and staff is our number one concern.”

In a statement, Police PIO Leo Kosinski confirmed the posts were threatening.

“They were non-specific threatening posts made on various social media platforms,” Kosinski said. "Our detectives looked into it and found no creditable threats at this time. There will be police officers at tonight's school board meeting.”

Officers were on-hand at Monday’s meeting, just like they have been for months.

The vacancy on the school board, that former School Board Chair Victoria Proffitt held, was also discussed.

Several candidates vying for the open position on the school board had a chance to explain why they’re the right person to serve in the role.

A candidate is expected to be selected at the next meeting on January 24.

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