Arizona School Board Members Flee Meeting as Parents Protest Student Mask Mandate

An Arizona school board canceled a meeting and called in police on Tuesday after parents entered the meeting to protest an extension of the district’s mask mandate.

The Vail School Board, which oversees a district southeast of Tuscon, called 911 after parents pushed into the meeting room without wearing masks and demanded to rescind the district’s masking requirement for students and teachers. Around 100 parents, some apparently with their children, arrived to protest the mandate, with most remaining outside during the duration of the events.

The district said local sheriffs advised them to leave because of crowd-control difficulties, however the sheriff’s office said the board decided to leave the meeting on their own, in comments to a local ABC affiliate.

Local parents then held their own meeting and proceeded to “elect” a new school board to rescind the mask mandate. The election itself was illegitimate because school board members must be elected by the public, so the mask mandate is still in effect in the district.

The protest came after Arizona governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, rescinded an executive order on Monday that required students at K–12 schools to wear masks. Ducey wrote on Twitter that he rescinded the statewide school mask mandate “in alignment with [CDC] guidance,” although current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages universal mask-wearing in schools.

Arizona school districts are now given the option to implement or rescind their own mask mandates. Almost all districts in the southern part of the state said they would continue to require students to wear masks, while many districts in and around the capital of Phoenix also kept the policy in place.

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