Mike Kennedy

Mask Madness

Feb. 22, 2022
The debates over Covid-19 and how to combat it have caused many to lash out at school officials.

As a reporter covering education for many years, I have seen plenty of heated exchanges at school board meetings. Issues that seem mundane to a neutral observer—say, redrawing a school’s attendance boundaries—become charged with emotion when it involves your children.

And when it involves children and a pandemic that has disrupted millions of lives, those emotions may become even more heightened. So it’s not surprising that the debates over Covid-19 and how to combat it—masks or no masks, in-person or remote instruction, vaccination requirements—have caused some to lash out over the policies that have been adopted by or imposed on school districts.

But enough is enough.

In the most recent highly publicized example, a Virginia woman was charged with a crime—making an oral threat on school property—after she allegedly threatened school board members with violence during a meeting about mask requirements.

In a public comment section of a January meeting of the Page County school board, Angela King, told board members: “My children will not come to school on Monday with a mask on. That’s not happening, and I will bring every single gun loaded and ready.”

Some might say this was just a flippant remark and we shouldn’t take treat it as a serious threat. But the scars left by Columbine, Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas and other school shootings have taught most people, especially those working in schools, to take such comments seriously.

The November fatal shootings at an Oxford, Mich., high school show what may happen when threats of violence are ignored. James and Jennifer Crumbley allegedly disregarded signs that their son, Ethan, was exhibiting threatening behavior, and soon four students were shot to death and seven other people injured in a shooting attack at Ethan’s school. Ethan Crumbley has been charged with murder, and his parents have been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Even though most health professionals say masks help prevent the spread of Covid-19, I understand that some people are opposed to mask mandates and view them as an infringement on their personal freedom. I also understand that school personnel have endured constant stress and hardship as they try to educate students safely and keep themselves safe.

So I hope the arrest of the woman in Virginia makes people pause and stop directing their anger at the wrong people.



THIS spring, American School & University magazine will assemble a panel of education and architectural professionals to judge the 32nd annual Educational Interiors Showcase, the industry’s premier awards program forexcellence in education facilities interiors. Selected projects will be published in the August 2022 Educational Interiors Showcase issue. 

Visit https://schooldesigns.com/educational-interiors-showcase/ to enter or for more information. Entry forms are due March 7. Submission materials are due April 22.

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