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Heated debate, scuffle over mask mandate ends board meeting

August 4, 2021 GMT

VILLA PARK, Ill. (AP) — A suburban Chicago school board adjourned without voting on a mask mandate for students and staff after the proposal sparked a heated debate and scuffle in the latest show of anger over coronavirus-related restrictions at schools.

District 45′s Tuesday evening school board meeting in Villa Park included yelling, heated words and an initial warning that the board would adjourn early after some attendees refused to comply with the meeting’s mask requirement to control the spread of COVID-19.

After a 45-minute delay, the meeting continued without mask enforcement, with parents who spoke divided on whether the mask mandate was necessary. Board President Judy Degnan adjourned the meeting without a vote following an altercation in a hallway.

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Witnesses said an argument led to pushing and one person was led away after appearing to suffer a panic attack, WLS-TV reported.

“Out of concern for the public safety and for our own safety, we are going to adjourn this board meeting,” Degnan said.

District 45 serves students predominantly in west suburban Villa Park and Lombard. The District’s superintendent has recommended the school board vote to approve a mask requirement for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status for the upcoming school year.

The district said the masking policy would be in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for areas such as DuPage County that have seen substantial recent spread of COVID-19.

The board planned to reschedule the mask mandate vote for a later date, but it was unclear if the next meeting would be in-person or via Zoom.