Masks to stay on

Protestors disrupt school board meeting, members vote to keep mandate

A woman who disrupted a Yukon Public School Board meeting in May is approached by Assistant Superintendent of Human Resouces Dr. Jason Brunk. (Photo by Robert Medley)

In a Yukon School Board meeting interrupted by angry outbursts from anti-maskers Monday night, board members voted to keep the masks on students for the rest of the semester.

There will be some flexibility for middle, intermediate and elementary school students, however, under a revised mandate.

More than 50 protestors of the Yukon district mask mandate for all students showed up, some with signs and others who spoke aloud and disrupted the meeting. The crowd of people in the board room erupted with shouts and applause as one woman charged the podium and grabbed the microphone to rail against masks.

“This is not about COVID! This is about control!” the woman screamed. Two Yukon police officers approached her, and she threw her hands behind her back and turned to the officers as if complying to be handcuffed. The officers did not arrest her, despite the disturbance.

Assistant Superintendent of Human resources Dr. Jason Brunk approached the woman when she returned to her seat. She did not leave the building, and remained mostly quiet through the rest of the meeting. She did not want to give her name to a reporter.

Board members voted 3-2 to require high schoolers to keep their masks on but to allow some of the younger students to take them off in some situations where social distancing is possible, but masks will remain in the classrooms. The district does not have buildings with space to allow for 6 feet of distancing in classrooms, Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said.

Board member Cody Sanders, who was sworn in Monday, made a motion to remove masks for all students under high school age. However, Suzanne Cannon, Brian Coulson and Leonard Wells voted against it with only Chris Cunningham and Sanders in favor. With that motion failing, a second motion was approved by the board to allow the flexibility with the younger students, but to keep masks mandated for high schoolers. Sanders, Cannon and Cunningham voted in favor.

The board voted for for elementary, intermediate and middle school levels to follow yellow category facial covering requirements to allow for flexibility in the classroom and other areas within the building. Facial coverings will remain required for high school for the duration of the school year.

The face coverings will be worn by all students and employees entering and exiting the building.  Face Coverings will be worn by all students and employees when they are not in the classroom.

Students and teachers are required to wear a face covering inside the classroom when social distancing is not possible. Examples include when students are engaged in small group work or when teachers need to work with small student groups at the elementary level.
Students are required to wear the face covering when approaching a teacher’s desk for assistance.
When in the classroom setting, when desks and other seating areas have been distanced as much as possible and students are seated, students and teachers are encouraged and allowed to wear Face Coverings but not required.
Face Coverings will not be required to be worn during PE, recess or other outdoor activities where air is circulating and informal social distancing is possible.

Kaity Carter of El Reno, was one of the anti-mask protestors who attended the meeting.

“I think it is ridiculous because the rate for kids for getting it is so much lower than adults So how about for those kids we dont require masks and leave it for the children’s parents to decide. It’s entirely up to the parents. We elect the people who are charge of our kids,” Carter said.