Webster Board of Education meeting gets heated over masking

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WEBSTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Board of Education meetings across the country have gotten heated as parents and administrators discuss the return to school.

In Webster, at Tuesday night’s BOE meeting, several controversial subjects came up but the majority of the two-and-a-half-hour meeting was spent on the subject of masks. At points, the Board threatened to call a recess in an effort to calm the room.

A group of adults showed up in matching t-shirts that said “Take Back Our Schools,” but the comments that got the biggest response from the crowd came from students like Sam Fallone, who will be a senior at Webster Schroeder High School in a couple of weeks.

"I feel infinitely safer knowing the plan for September involves the whole population being masked," Fallone said. "I thank the Board for putting the safety of Webster students over the entertainment of their parents. Thank you for your time.”

Recent 2020 Schroeder grad Russell Harrison got a similar reaction from the crowd after his time at the microphone.

Harrison: "Apart from getting a vaccination, a simple face covering is all we are being asked to do. It’s cheap, it’s easy."

Crowd: yelling

Moderator: "Please don’t interrupt."

Harrison: "…and it has a minimal impact on the learning experience, but perhaps most importantly it is a proven method for reducing the rate at which a respiratory virus can spread."

Crowd: yelling, booing, expletives

Moderator: "Each speaker has the privilege of the floor. It is not your right to interrupt."

Parent Jill Joy argued it’s more than a simple face covering as she cupped her child’s mouth and called masks “abuse.”

"This is not a little girl, it’s your salary,” Joy said, pointing at the Board. “She’s not a child, she’s a dollar sign. Because if you saw her, if you saw this, you would see that this is abuse and you would stop it."

The crowd erupted again when recent Webster grad, Nick Fallone, who wore a mask during his senior year at Schroeder and again throughout his freshman year of college, spoke in support of masking.

“Do we have to clear the room?” said the meeting’s moderator. “Is it really impossible to let somebody speak?"

Students in Webster go back to school in three weeks. As of now, the district still plans to have kids in-person five days a week with masks.