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Parents storm the NHC Board of Education building to object to mask mandate

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 6:31 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2021 at 1:10 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Parents stormed the New Hanover County Board of Education building to object to the current mask mandate imposed on schools.

Ahead of the the Tuesday night school board meeting parents and community members gathered on the lawn outside of the Board of Education building, holding signs that read “you can’t mask the truth!” and “we the people don’t need permission to breathe.” Some people more vocal than others.

As this group protested the mask mandate and time drew closer to the start of the meeting, they made their way up the steps to crowd the doorway, but were stopped by law enforcement.

Many tried to storm the door to enter the building for the meeting that was set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday evening, but refused to put on masks, so law enforcement officers didn’t allow entry.

One man forcefully entered the building, but refused to wear a mask, so he was escorted out towards the beginning of the meeting. Only those cooperating and wearing masks were allowed into the meeting.

The protesting crowd began to chant “let us in” from outside of the building and could be heard from inside the meeting room, even hours into the meeting.

The board is required to take a monthly vote on whether or not they will continue to require masks in schools, and that vote was taken at Tuesday’s meeting.

The board voted 6-1 to continue requiring masks in New Hanover County Schools. Pete Wildeboer voting against the mask mandate saying, ““as the CDC clearly states, N95 masks are a better and safer choice for our students. So, I’m gonna do it, as I said last month, let’s keep our students safe and do it right.”

Stephanie Kraybill reminded Wildeboer that it’s not an easy process to get all staff and students properly fitted for N95 masks. “We would have to have, definitely, a respiratory protection program for our school system in order to require N95s.”

Although this was brought up during the board’s discussion of the mask mandate, there is no sign of N95s being required anytime soon. Other board members commented on the importance of keeping the school mask mandate in place.

People who spoke during the call to audience portion of the meeting voiced their concerns with the mask mandate, others thanked the board for requiring masks in schools. In the end, they weren’t able to sway the board member’s opinions.

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