Hello. Welcome to another @LeonSchools School Board meeting. Dee Dee Rasmussen is not present, she's traveling.
Observations by this reporter: Darryl Jones is wearing a mask. The audience is mostly maskless... I only saw two people wearing masks. All seats are taken up, people are standing. I also believe people are in the parking lot, waiting to be called for comment.
FYI I am reporting from my home aka the Midtown bureau and watching this on Facebook Live.
There are almost 600 people watching this meeting on Facebook live.
Hanna, Bowen, Jones, all are in a great mood after hearing what Full Summer and Junior League have done for back to school supplies, food insecurity, etc. But now it's public comment soooooo here we go
Matthew Schnippert: teaches AP Chem at Chiles. brings up the recent CDC recommendation that masks should be in schools. Worries about Jacksonville's numbers of children in the hospital with COVID-19. "masks are our last real means of protection."
Two people have waived their comments to say they don't want kids segregated in classrooms by masks.
Speaker who I didn't hear her name: Unvaxxed students will be unfairly affected when around a COVID positive person. Says COVID-recovered people have natural immunity and shouldn't have to quarantine. (People clapped as she finished her comments)
Lori Boyd (Sp?): "The CDC is not in charge of my body." This is oppressive, this is not what America stands for. "40 years of data has never shown that masks shot viral transmission." there is zero science or data to support masks. (FYI, this is false: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P…)
Observation by this reporter: A YouTube video of a previous school board meeting was taken down because of COVID-19 misinformation. Will this be taken down as well? I hope not, I need it to write this story later.
This next speaker, Mr. Kerwin, is yelling. He doesn't want the district to discriminate between vaxxed kids and non-vaxxed kids. "Teachers, you're going on notice. Don't ask anyone if they've been vaccinated."
Lindy Enwright (sp?) Talks about discrimination. I think the new quarantine protocols, that students/employees who are vaxxed don't have to quarantine UNLESS they get a positive COVID test but students who aren't vaxxed have to quarantine.
Wants to know if students who have had COVID have to submit info of antibodies to not quarantine. (this is a good question. Could you do this?)
Katrina Heft: By requiring proof of vaccination and by allowing vaxxed students to not have to quarantine, she says this is like a vaccine passport. If two students, one vaxxed and one not, both get negative tests, one can come back to school but the other has to wait.
I also can't keep up with everything the speakers are saying. Trying to do my best. There's a lot of people in this room and and now almost 850 people are watching this on Facebook Live.
A mother says that if a mask mandate returns she will send her children to virtual school.
Another speaker says that masks don't work. Again, here's another thing that says they do:mayoclinic.org/diseases-condi… But to be fair, you can find "experts" that say whatever if you Google or if you just log into your Facebook account and read your news feed so.
this speaker also said that students who are vaxxed and who are unvaxxed should have the same quarantine protocol. They should be treated the same because vaxxed kids can also pass on the virus. This is true: medical.mit.edu/covid-19-updat…
Another observation by this reporter: I need a diet coke. this is going to be a long night.
Sharyn Kerwin is up. She's spoken a lot at these meetings. Also against any discrimination that may occur for children who are unvaxxed. Brings up the fact that vaxxed people can get the virus. And just because a student is vaxxed doesn't mean that they can't pass it along.
Oo, a student! John reddick, an incoming freshman at Chiles. "Masks were very much of a hindrance to me and my friends. If you want to get the vaccine, get the vaccine. If you want to wear a mask, then wear a mask. Do what makes you happy."
Happy to hear from a student. I want to hear from more students! All these adults are making decisions for you and you should have your voice heard.
Did the feed go down? I can't get it to restart.
So the live feed got cut off. But to summarize this meeting, most parents are upset that unvaxxed students will have a different quarantine protocol than vaxxed students. They say this is a vaccine passport and is illegal because of SB2006. Also, vaxxed kids can spread COVID
Wait, I just started watching again and this woman is holding up a piece of cardboard and I don't know what is happening.
Whitfield Leland: What's really going on is the white people don't want masks, the Black people want masks. (He is the first Black speaker).
Says the board's job is to protect the public. Says he talked to the health department, county commissioners, says a lot of people in the community are scared of the virus. It's about respect. But at the end of the day, there can't be two sets of rules for two different groups.
Joseph Gabriel, an FSU professor: in favor of mandatory masks. Understands why people are concerned about masks, and he's concerned about everyone in the community. "We have to come together." We have to do it with respect for each other and with love in our hearts for each other
This next parent: "In this room, there are people who I don't agree with but I know they love their children." Reporters observation: EVERY source I have spoken to wants to do what's best for the kids. This is what makes this topic so complicated and hard.
Also now 1.1k people are watching this. Where you at, watchers? Tell me what you think of this meeting.
Another speaker is talking about how there's only an 85% chance of surviving the vaccine. THIS IS ALSO FALSE. politifact.com/article/2021/j…
Another parent, wearing a mask, wants to know more about quarantine protocols. Says the plans depend largely on the flexibility of teachers who are already burdened. Wants a detailed set of scenarios for parents. Afraid a lot of kids are going to have to miss school.
Teacher Jessica Barkle: "I am tired of giving everything I Have to a profession that refuses to value me." Tired of fighting for her students, who she says are ignored by leadership. Begs the board to act. "They [students] are my world and I will not stand by for a moment"
Has watched her students grieve for family. "I will take all the hate from the opposition if it means students are safe."
Reporter observation: If you want to know how contentious this conversation is, look at the Facebook comments on this live video. It's harsh, it's gotten brutal. It's the worst of the comment section.
"This ain't Jan. 6" says Stanley Sims. Hanna asks the audience to take the high road. Bowen asks Mr. Sims to direct comments to her. "Our children are watching us, we will get to be where we need to be tonight."
"Ya'll talking about discrimination over masks when we are still suffering, when a man had his knee on a Black man's neck for nine minutes, where were you?"
Did someone throw something at Sims? There's a recess now.
Taking a break to figure out what's going on.
Back. Got a text from a PTO mom from an elementary school: "It doesn't feel like it's about the kids anymore. It's whose research is better than whose."
Bowen has had to ask the audience to be quiet and let Dr. Cox give his presentation on COVID protocols. This list can be found here: tallahassee.com/story/news/202…
Cox and a rep from the department of health are talking about how they contact trace.
Hanna emphasizes that the Leon County Department of Health takes its directive from the state department of health. This is important, because the school board is just a local entity. These department of health contact tracing rules are from (waves hands high in the air)
Cox keeps repeating "Things keep changing rapidly," and he is RIGHT. At this moment, these are the protocols. But we know that things are subject to change as data, positivity rates and info change.
Hanna: the only really big change from yesterday's meeting is no vendors, no volunteers for elementary/middle schools for the first nine weeks. This was something the principals asked for.
Darryl Jones asked why they're changing the protocol as things are rapidly changing. Hanna is saying that masks are optional, but if hospitalizations rise among children, they will make masks mandatory.
"It would be different if the numbers were what they were when we first had this discussion." Jones said. Those numbers have names. That's what informs his perspective. Wants to look out for the vulnerable population of the county. "This is an issue of social responsibility"
Right now the board is talking about where they stand as far as masks, the protocols, with the 14% positivity rate.
"If we make masks mandatory, we are shutting down one group's options, and that is not what we are about in Leon County," says Striplin.
Bowen is worried about the littles, but stays the course and reiterates that if the numbers change, the school board will pivot.
Jones said that if they use caution and they cater to the vulnerable rather than cater to the fringe, they can ensure a better outcome. Concerned about teachers, bus drivers who are a part of the constituency,
The board has decided to keep the mask optional policy. Moving onto the agenda. It's been almost 3.5 hours.
So now it's been 4 hours. It's 10 p.m. Sorry for the abrupt end of the live tweeting, but I can't live tweet and write the story at the same time. I am not a robot.
Meeting lasted a little over 4 hours. Story will be up soon. It's been real, Tallahassee.

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More from @goni_lessan

Oct 12, 2021
Before the @LeonSchools board discusses going back to parental opt-out, they're hearing public comment. @TDOnline
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