Board Meeting 8.30.21
During Monday’s Oak Harbor Public Schools Board of Directors meeting, several members of the audience refused to comply with the Governor’s indoor mask mandate, creating an unsafe environment to conduct the meeting. The members of the audience, including several students, were given multiple opportunities to comply with the mask mandate and, after refusing repeatedly to follow the Board’s request, the Board recessed to evaluate their options.
After it was clear the audience members would not leave the meeting or wear a mask, the Board unanimously moved to suspend the remaining portion of the agenda and recess into an already scheduled Executive Session. The suspended portion of the agenda will be moved to the September Board meeting agenda. The Board’s virtual meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, August 31 but was canceled since the remaining portion of the agenda listed only non-time-sensitive business items.
According to the Washington State’s Constitution, the RCW's, and the advice of the District’s legal counsel, the Board of Directors is not permitted to conduct school business that is in violation of legal directives from the Washington State Department of Health, as well as the Governor’s Executive Order, which currently requires wearing masks indoors on school property.
Since this is the second consecutive Board meeting to be disrupted by audience members, obstructing the School Board from conducting District business, the Board has elected to change the format of future Board meetings to a virtual format using Google Live Stream. This decision is about the safety of staff, students, and community members who attend the meetings and also to remain in compliance with the Governor’s recent orders. The district will continue to allow for public comment during its virtual format as long as those comments comply with Board policy. Sign-ups will be made on the district website.
As we continue to move towards opening schools, Oak Harbor Public Schools remains committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for staff and students. We are excited about the upcoming school year and the return of our students to full-time in-person learning. We are motivated each day to make their return an educational and successful experience.
The pandemic has added tremendous stress and has created community expectations that are impossible to meet for everyone. We value public opinion and input and regret the current situation we are in. No one, including school employees, enjoys wearing masks. We are trying to do everything possible through all mitigation practices to keep our schools open and our community safe.
There have been questions regarding the District’s legal requirement to follow the current Department of Health and Governor’s orders around COVID. We have asked the District’s legal counsel to provide a legal brief to help us understand this legal matter more completely and to assist us in making sound decisions. A copy of this legal brief is available here.
Expanding student learning and the return of student activities to five days a week of in-person instruction is the objective for the upcoming school year. The District is committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment for our students to receive a quality education while providing a level of safety for our staff.
- Oak Harbor Public Schools Board of Directors