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Eugene 4J School Board Public Hearing Disrupted Over COVID, Mask Mandate

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The Eugene 4J School Board had to halt proceedings last night when their meeting was repeatedly interrupted by raucous attendees. Some protested the state mask mandate for K-12 schools, while others called for more COVID restrictions. 

Ten community members spoke, both in favor of the mask mandate, and in opposition.

Attendees shouted, clapped and cheered, or loudly disagreed with speakers.

Most public comments were in support of requiring masks, and even encouraged more COVID precautions, like implementing breaking classes into “pods” to lessen the possible spread of COVID.

Others said it would be unconstitutional and unnecessary, stating that the “hysteria” around the Delta variant is unwarranted.

Community member Jenny Jonak says masks could keep immuno-compromised students safer.

“My daughter’s 10,” Jonak said, “and she’s been weighing lately what’s going to be more important; her health, or going back to school in person so she doesn’t fall behind? She shouldn’t have to make that choice.”

During Jonak’s statement, an attendee interrupted by shouting that all the vaccine manufacturers were “convicted felons,” and that it was irresponsible to ask people to get vaccinated.

The disruption became so loud that the board took a ten-minute break from the meeting to resolve the issue. Upon re-entering, the board assured attendees that they could provide public comment through emails, which would be read by all board members.

The next board meeting is August 18.

Jen is an intern for KLCC, through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. This is her first radio news job. She is Oregon-born and raised and loves writing, reading and recording. Her favorite things to write about are community and social justice issues, LGBTQIA+ news and history, and cultural deep-dives.