We’ve rounded the corner into year two of living with Covid-19. It’s been a looooong year of wearing masks, buying hand sanitizer in bulk, and social distancing.
But as more and more people get vaccinated, mask mandates and pandemic measures are beginning to lift.
As of this week, nearly half of the country (24 states) no longer require masks (although they are still recommended.)
However, within these states, many school districts continue to enforce face coverings in buildings and on school buses.
Last month, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order lifting all state COVID-19 restrictions on businesses.
Last week, Gov. Ducey extended the order, officially rescinding the state’s requirement for face masks in schools. Although he did say that it was at the discretion of the school district:
“K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread, including the use of masks.”
Which is exactly what the Vail Unified School District did.
And some parents? Are OVER IT.
The school board had to call 911 after Vail parents took their frustration to the streets, or more accurately, to the Vail Education Centre, where a school board meeting was about to take place.
The group of approximately 100 enraged parents brandished picket signs reading, “No mask mandate,” and “Take off the muzzle!” and chanted “Let our children breathe!” and “Dump the board!”
The angry swarm eventually forced their way into the boardroom at which point school board members called 911.
A sergeant and 4 deputies from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department arrived in just over one minute.
Needless to say, the meeting was canceled due to safety concerns and the board members fled the scene.
However, the saga didn’t end there. This just stoked the fire of fury.
One woman was caught on video yelling at the police officers, saying:
“These are our kids! We have bills in the Constitution in Arizona that give us parental rights — they are inalienable rights. They do not have the right to take them away, and yet this state, and this board, has taken it away from us. And they have the audacity to leave when we come here as peaceful parents and talk to them? It’s bull crap.”
Emotions quite high.. Parents demanding answers from the sheriff’s deputy as to why the school board left. The deputy trying to explain the meeting is canceled for tonight. @KVOA pic.twitter.com/nutYVKkShM
— Eric Fink (@EricMillerFink) April 28, 2021
(The board may disagree with the “peaceful” parents’ part.)
The protestors then decided to take the matter one step further. Not happy with the current board, they proceeded to have their own, impromptu board election.
That’s right. They elected a NEW BOARD. Literally, on the spot. And just like that, the mood quickly turned from anger to elation.
The new board’s first act in power? To eliminate the mask policy.
One of the newly elected members immediately put forth the motion saying:
“I motion that the entire Vail School District will be free of mask policy and it will be optional to all teachers and students alike with no fear of retribution.”
The vote was unanimously in favor.
100s of parents in Vail, AZ attended a School Board meeting, protesting mask mandates for schools. They would not leave. The Board was overwhelmed and outnumbered. They quit. The parents elected new members and immediately struck down mask mandates for kids. This is the way. pic.twitter.com/Om83FnURWE
— Ian Smith (@iansmithfitness) April 28, 2021
WOW. Parents in Vail, Arizona just took over the school board – all according to the rules. Voted in a whole new board, and immediately removed the mask mandate. Democracy in action! Just Amazing!
— Tim Swain (@SwainForSenate) April 28, 2021
Except this is NOT THE WAY. Nor is this “democracy in action.”
The Vail School District superintendent, John Carruth, responded to the debacle the following morning.
He shot down claims from a group calling itself the “Freedom Fighters Group” that they replaced the school board.
“It’s a publicity stunt. A new board needs to be voted through a due elected process of the voters of this community. That did not happen last night.”
The original elected school board is still in place.
He went on to say:
“Last night was not a good night for the Vail School District…the Vail community, but we can overcome tough things. We know how to do that. We know how to pull together as a community. We’ve done that for years and I expect..fully expect that we’ll be able to that in regards to this issue.”
He also set the record straight saying that all of the protestors were not, in fact, parents with kids in the Vail School District. Some of them were from outside of the county and outside of Vail.
It appears as though the rally and ensuing chaos proved ineffective. For now, nothing has changed. The mask mandate remains in place and will likely stay for the remainder of the school year.