Dueling mask mandate rallies prompt police response ahead of Lake County School Board meeting

TAVARES, Fla. — Police were called to the Lake County School District office building after a faceoff between pro-mask and anti-mask crowds became heated.

READ: Orange County teachers union pushes for mandatory mask mandate

Members of both sides gathered ahead of Monday night’s meeting, where public comment slots filled up in anticipation of school board members discussing mask-related policies.

PHOTOS: Anti, pro-masking demonstrators clash ahead of Lake County School Board meeting

The meeting was scheduled amid a rise in COVID cases in Central Florida Schools and took place hours after a charter school in the county was forced to quarantine its entire sixth grade.

While anti-mask rallyers outnumbered their pro-mask counterparts by a decent margin, law enforcement was summoned after members of both sides began accusing one another of assault and harassment. Several kids who were brought to the rally were visible overwhelmed by the adults screaming at each other with bullhorns.

“These guidelines take away everything from the high school experience we should be getting and enjoying,” one girl, who identified herself as a student, said.

READ: Coronavirus: What are the symptoms of the delta variant in children?

Both sides said they were following the science, though the anti-mask group could not provide an alternative solution to masks when asked about keeping children in physical classrooms. Pro-maskers said they weren’t surprised they were outnumbered, given the political alignment of Lake County.

“I’m for not seeing any more people die,” Steve Leitschuh said. “I’d rather see the people live.”

However, much of the activity turned out to be for nothing. School district officials said the governor’s ongoing order limiting their power to enact a mask mandate meant they couldn’t make any decisions. Not to mention the fact that masks weren’t on Monday night’s agenda.

READ: Coronavirus: FDA grants full approval of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

One board member said 4,400 students and staff members had been affected since the school year began.

“I don’t know how we continue like this,” one board member said. “Decisions have consequences and we are definitely living them.”

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