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Anti-maskers force early adjournment of La. school board meeting

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 4:17 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WVUE) - Angry parents, refusing to wear masks, prompted the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to adjourn its meeting early Wednesday. Board members were set to consider possible changes in rules mandating that children wear masks to school.

Board members said proper decorum required the wearing of masks, but a large group decided that wasn’t going to happen.

Doctors who were going to testify on the mask issue refused to enter the room because so few attendees wore masks. After repeated outbursts and mass refusal to wear masks, the board voted to adjourn.

Someone objecting to Gov. John Bel Edwards' mask mandate for Louisiana schools scrawled an...
Someone objecting to Gov. John Bel Edwards' mask mandate for Louisiana schools scrawled an anti-mask message and left it at the door of the hearing room for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. The board refused to hold a public hearing on the mask mandate because the room was crowded with people who refused to put on face coverings. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)(Melinda Deslatte | AP)

The meeting ended with the board taking no action, as parents spoke outside.

“Per state constitution, there is no government decision that overrides or supersedes the parents’ right to choose for the child,” said protester Shari Champagne.

“They found fungi and bacteria in these masks the kids wear all day long,” said Jamie Jackson.

The chief medical officer for the state’s largest hospital system says masks are safe and with COVID cases rising, he says it’s crucial to control the spread of the virus now. You can track COVID cases in New Orleans public schools with their dashboard, which is updated every Monday.

More: LDH data shows 28 percent of new COVID-19 cases are in children + Thousands of students and staff quarantined due to COVID-19 in Greater New Orleans area schools

“Students, when they get infected, the more get quarantined, the more parents would have to stay at home with their quarantine children and the less workers we have in our hospital,” said Dr. Robert Hart.

For now, the governor’s mask mandate requiring they be worn by anyone five or older in public places remains in place.

Louisiana pastor Tony Spell, who has repeatedly refused to follow Gov. John Bel Edwards'...
Louisiana pastor Tony Spell, who has repeatedly refused to follow Gov. John Bel Edwards' coronavirus restrictions, speaks to a crowd of angry, largely unmasked people at the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. The board refused to hold a public hearing on whether to challenge Edwards' mask mandate because people refused to comply with the building's face covering requirement. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)(Melinda Deslatte | AP)

BESE put out a statement saying they have no mask mandates in place. The statement says local school systems have the authority to develop their own COVID-19 policies, but it is not clear if they can override the state mandate.

You can watch a live stream of the events that occurred after the meeting was adjourned, including an impromptu outdoor meeting held by the angry parents below.

BESE meeting adjourned

School board meeting has devolved after the crowd refused to wear masks. The board has voted to adjourn: https://bit.ly/3CWwiUg

Posted by WVUE FOX 8 News on Wednesday, August 18, 2021

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