Scottsdale school district restricts in-person access to board for public comment on masks

Numerous protests have been staged against mandatory mask poliicies in schools/Needpix

By Renata Cló , Yana Kunichoff | Arizona Republic

Clashing opinions on Scottsdale Unified School District’s mask mandate took up the majority of public comment at a board meeting Tuesday night.

Some parents spoke fiercely against the district’s mask mandate, calling it a power grab and raising concerns about the mental health effect on students, a reflection of the divisive nature of the debate in the district.

Other parents, some health care professionals themselves, applauded a decision they acknowledged as difficult.

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“It’s not always easy to do the right thing, especially when it’s unpopular,” said one speaker in favor of the mandate.

All of the speakers spoke in person in front of seated board members, while the meeting was livestreamed to a broader audience.

That’s because anyone looking to give comment at the Scottsdale school board meeting on Tuesday had to wait outside and then enter the boardroom one at a time as a security measure amid heightened tensions over face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the school district had its highest level yet of active COVID-19 cases among students, a total of 142 active COVID-19 cases on campus, almost double the highest number last school year.

Board members promised that they would continue COVID-19 mitigation strategies that would allow them to keep in-person learning.

“We need to keep our community safe so our students can continue to learn,” board member Libby Hart-Wells said.

The meeting was still going as of 10 p.m.

The Scottsdale Unified School District last week adopted a mask mandate until late September.

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