Kansas school board meeting suspended after new members fail to wear masks

Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Wichita Board of Education (BOE) planned to swear in three new members at Monday night’s BOE meeting. However, their meeting was cut short when they failed to wear masks.

The president of the BOE, Stan Reeser, asked all members to put face masks on as part of a directive passed on August 23, 2021, which requires everyone over the age of three to wear a face mask in district buildings. After waiting for a brief moment, the three new members sat unmasked, and Reeser decided to suspend the meeting without calling it into order.

“The reason is twofold,” said Reeser.

1. Our students and staff have made it clear that they want to be in school to teach and to learn. In order to make this possible, we must follow current health recommendations of public health guidelines. The board of education face mask requirement gives us the greatest chance to have the safest possible teaching and learning environment.

2. This is probably the most important, this district cannot vote on directives, policies and protocols that we expect students, staff and citizens to abide by all while exempting BOE members.

BOE President Stan Reeser

Wichita Public Schools published a post on Twitter after the meeting, stating, “The BOE President suspended tonight’s Board of Education meeting due to the district’s mask requirement not being followed by attendees at the meeting. The meeting will be rescheduled, and notification will be provided when the new date and time is confirmed.”

The meeting will be rescheduled for an unknown date and time.

Regardless of the member’s and attendees’ position on mask mandates, everyone was surprised at the outcome of tonight’s meeting.

“I’m disappointed that adults didn’t wear the masks,” said Ernestine Krehbiel, a member of Wichita’s BOE. “I’m really sad that this meeting ended like this because I really think we had some important stuff to cover.”

“As adults, we have to set examples for our youth,” said Sandra Rankin, a BOE meeting attendee. “This is about our children. We’re setting the example for our children, and so we have to do a good job. That’s why we send our children to school.”

“I was kind of disappointed that it didn’t end up happening. I was just hoping that something would get accomplished,” said Charles Bible, BOE meeting attendee. “This is actually my first time being to a school board meeting, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it wasn’t just having it canceled.”

“I’m hoping is this will reinforce to our students and our staff that the Board of Education is not exempt from rules and directives that we enforce on them,” said Reeser. “It’s very important they understand that we are not above them, that we have to follow the rules and regulations as well, and we welcome any future debate on mask directives, but you first have to follow the rules, and regulations, and the protocols, and the directives first.”

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