Warning: Language in the video player above from the meeting may be offensive to some
CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The Chesapeake School Board held a special meeting Friday to discuss recent COVID-19 data, and the board voted to re-instate masking in schools starting January 3.
The board said the masking order will stay in place until COVID-19 numbers go down, and then will be reevaluated.
At the beginning of the meeting members of the public spoke up from the crowd causing the Vice Chair to say if they did not settle down, they would be removed.
When shouting continued, the board voted to go into closed session.
Then the angry shouting from the public got louder and everyone was removed from the room.
Although we could not see who was shouting, News 3 could hear on the live stream people saying, “Say goodbye to your job,” and “These are children! These are children! They said no masks two weeks ago what changed what changed?”
One person in the background of the video also said she drove 45 minutes to be present at the meeting.
This meeting comes as Virginia has hit record high daily COVID-19 cases in December and as pediatric COVD-19 cases are spiking.
On December 15 the school board also made the decision to not require students to wear masks in the building starting January 3, 2022.
Members cited data from the Chesapeake Health Department saying the city remains at a high transmission rate with 18.4% positivity.
“I do not like masks any more than anybody else does,” said Vice Chair Colleen Leary. “But at this point with the surge in the omicron and how it is affecting our children, we were very concerned that they were going to come back from visiting families and having holiday celebrations, that that might cause them to go home and have something and then come to school and then share it with everyone.”
Parents are split on the divisive mask debate with many in support of keeping them inside the classrooms like CPS teacher and mother Amanda Lambert.
“Our kids deserve to be in class learning and if a piece of fabric is what it takes to make that happen, then so be it,” said Lambert. “It’s not forever. No one wants this forever, trust me.”
The fiery meeting even drew several Virginia Beach parents arguing in support of keeping masks optional.
“I thought we all had liberty; we were all given liberty but apparently they think they can coerce people’s liberty away from them,” said Beach parent Sara Gerloff. “They’ve become tyrants, really.”
In the end, board members voted 5 to 1 to go back to a mask mandate.
On Thursday, two Chesapeake School Board members also said they would not be at the special meeting that was set for 4 p.m. on Friday.
School board members said the special meeting was called to review recent COVID-19 data and to discuss any possible necessary response.
There must be a majority of members present at the meeting which would be five of nine on order to constitute a quorum.