School board meeting gets heated as parents demand mask policy be dropped

Virginia Beach parents demand school board 'do your job' and end a mask requirement for children

Parents attending a Virginia school board meeting gave heated testimony on why students should not be masked for the coming year. 

"You’re all hypocrites," parent Annie Palumbo told the Virginia Beach school board on Tuesday evening. "You’re sitting here without masks and want our kids masked. No, we’re fighting."

The board meeting came ahead of a vote on whether students attending Virginia Beach City Public Schools will be required to wear face masks for next school year. The board ultimately voted 4-6 against making masks optional. 

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"Adults have access to the vaccine," Lindsey Bohon, a mother of four, said. "It’s time to let our children resume normal life, see their teachers’ and classmates’ faces and for our children to stop living in fear."

At least one parent called into the meeting speaking in support of masks until all children are vaccinated. Nearly 50 speakers addressed the board over the four-hour meeting. 

"Parents should have a voice," Palumbo added in her address. "My body, my choice. That’s what we believe and that’s what we’re sticking with."

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Another parent, Thomas Conant, told the board: "That’s what your job is. Do your job and take the masks off our kids and stick to education."

There was also an anti-mask rally held before the meeting, where one 8-year-old said masks give him headaches. 

"It gives me headaches when I wear it all day when I’m at school,"the 8-year-old said. "It makes me that I can’t see my friends smile and I can’t see them talk. Sometimes I can’t understand, and I can’t breathe at all."

Virginia is currently under a mask mandate requiring anyone to wear masks inside a classroom, but the order is set to expire on Sunday. The board is expected to update its mask guidance on Aug. 10. 

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The chair of the board did not immediately respond to Fox News’s request for comment on the meeting, but did tell local outlet News 3 that  the school district "continues to monitor and consider relevant agency guidance at the federal, state and local levels as it becomes available."

Videos of parents and students slamming school policies on mask wearing have gone viral in recent months, including when a 10-year-old Florida student delivered an impassioned plea to his school board in May to drop mask requirements. 

"All of this seems unfair, and it doesn’t make sense," the boy told board members. "I miss seeing people's faces. I miss the way things used to be. I'm scared they'll never go back to normal. Breathing freely doesn’t seem like something we should have to ask any other people for permission for."

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The debate on masks comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance that "children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all," but noted, "some children can get severely ill."

The Virginia school board meeting comes after the American Academy of Pediatrics said all students should be masked regardless of vaccination status.