Mask of Madness at School Board Meeting | Republic-Times

Similar to its last meeting, COVID issues largely took center stage at Monday’s Waterloo school board meeting.

But this time the police were called.

After addressing the board of directors to express his dissatisfaction with Gov. JB Pritzker’s school mask tenure and Waterloo’s compliance, resident James Link refused to put his mask back on at the meeting.

He was then escorted down a hallway by two Waterloo police officers and arrested for criminal trespassing on state-supported property, Waterloo Police Chief Jeff Prosise confirmed.

Prosise also said that no force was used by the officers. Link has been taken into custody.

Monroe County State Attorney Lucas Liefer was still reviewing the incident before determining an official charge.

Within 2 to 5 minutes that Link was allowed to comment, he claimed that two recent legal actions, both cases being argued elsewhere in the state by attorney Thomas DeVore, prove that the Waterloo School District cannot demand that anyone wears a mask unless they are under an “official quarantine order” from their local health department.

Last week, a judge ruled that three students in Effingham County could not be forced by the school to wear masks unless the county health department issued such an order. In a case in August, a Clinton County judge issued an injunction preventing Carlyle Community Unit No.1 School District from excluding a child from in-person education due to COVID concerns without local health department quarantine order.

“Translated: None of the children should wear masks. Courts in several counties have said that only the county health department can issue quarantine orders, ”Link said after summarizing the decisions. “What does this mean? It means you cannot force students or staff to wear masks without a quarantine order. It is illegal and guaranteed by law.

He then encouraged the council to vote on the masking policy, and that if they continued to uphold Pritzker’s tenure, he would begin the process of bringing legal action against the district.

When school board member Gary Most told Link he needed to mask himself, Link asked Most to present “a quarantine order” followed by “Show me and I will put on the mask.”

With that, the board took a break. Link used this time to give his contact details to other members of the public, especially those interested in his proposed trial.

As the council members began to enter the council chamber, two policemen from Waterloo arrived and ushered Link into the hallway. At this point, the public erupted in protest, calling the school board “cowards.” They have even been called “communists”.

Police asked a particularly disgruntled member of the public to leave, and this man’s wife followed them into the hallway where Link was, recording the incident on her phone.

“You should be ashamed of you guys! It’s not American! Can’t he think you’re cowards? Are you offended that he called you a coward? Disgusting! ”The woman shouted at the advice before stepping out.

With the door closed, the public comment portion of the meeting resumed.

As the screams continued in the hallway, Lloyd Jarden, a parent in the school district, said he too was concerned about the legality of the school’s COVID procedure. However, he was most concerned about whether the Illinois State Board of Education had the legal authority to withdraw district accreditation, and therefore funding, if they did not follow the order of the governor.

Casey Johnson, another parent in the district, said in addition to the rulings cited by Link, she believes Illinois laws are at odds with the close contact quarantine policy.

“The school is not legally able to deny our children public education because of Illinois laws. I understand the warrants are contrary, but JB Pritzker’s warrants are not legally binding, ”she said, citing the Madison County state attorney to support her argument.

Much of Jarden’s concerns revolved around the potential consequences of healthy children excluded from school due to close contact – many of which were discussed by parents at the Columbia school board meeting last month.

He particularly opposed the exclusion of Waterloo from more students as close contacts than other districts. Towards the end of his prepared remarks, Jarden offered potential solutions to this, suggesting the district better limit lunch hours, remove libraries from classrooms to allow for more social distancing and more.

“There is no reason for Waterloo to exclude many more students than any other district in our area,” Jarden said, having said earlier: “Today’s COVID world demands more. It demands more. of every worker in the company The neighborhood demands more from parents every day … but the administration has not been able to put in place protocols to keep children in school, such as setting an hourglass. 15 minutes at lunch? I found that extremely disappointing.

Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner has confirmed that Waterloo receives more students than other districts in the region and follows the same rules as everyone else, but that fact “really doesn’t mean whatever (Jarden) wants it to be “.

Wagner explained that Waterloo follows the same rules of exclusion from close contact as everyone else, and the greater number of students excluded for this reason may be the result of alternative factors. He said having less space in the dining room, crowded buses, smaller classrooms and / or larger classrooms and the frequency of students switching classes are some examples of what could lead Waterloo to see closer contact.

While school board president Lori Dillenberger prefaced the public participation portion of the meeting by reminding that this part is not a conversation between the board and the public, Superintendent Brian Charron later told the Republic-Times the district will continue to apply the mask mandate.

“We are subject to an executive order and we have been given rules from the Illinois Board of Education that we must follow,” Charron said.

In reference to another state mandate, Charron emailed Waterloo school district employees on Tuesday.

Per COVID-19 Executive Order No.88 and subsequent ISBE rules, all Illinois school personnel who are fully vaccinated must provide documentation by Friday.

Those who are not fully immunized should submit test results before the end of the school week.

Charron’s email asked employees who had not provided immunization records to communicate whether they would submit test results as ordered.

“For those who have indicated a non-compliance, we are making arrangements for your replacement,” Charron’s email pointed out. “Thank you for communicating your intention. It helps us plan appropriately for Monday. Please officially submit your personal time request.

For additional employees who have not communicated anyway, please do so. I will have a difficult decision to make on Friday morning. At this point, we are requesting permission to take full distance learning, starting Monday morning, due to too many employees being excluded from the school premises, ”reads the e -mail of Charron.

The email also informed school staff that the regional education office will be offering the SHIELD test to unvaccinated school staff on Wednesday in Chester or Thursday at Waterloo Junior High School. Kelton Davis, Regional Superintendent of Monroe and Randolph County Schools, provided a detailed explanation of the mandate of the vaccines / tests for school staff.

Approved budget

Following the public comment portion on Monday evening, the board unanimously approved the 2021-2022 school district budget that was presented at the start of the meeting.

Charron described the district’s finances on budget as “super healthy.” The budget includes, Charron said, the planned spending and their respective costs as well as the forecasted revenues.

“We think we’re going to spend around $ 960,000, which sounds really bad, but when we have $ 21 million (right now), spending close to $ 1 million isn’t that bad,” Charron summed up.

The budget estimates that the district will be in the red in four categories: education, operations and maintenance, debt service and transportation.

He forecasts that the district will have $ 19,628,266 in income and $ 21,001,067 in education expenditure. In turn, the district is estimated in the red of more than a million dollars in this category.

“We added more staff (due to COVID) on top of the salary increases being negotiated,” Charron said of the deficit.

He said increases in the wages of maintenance workers also contributed to the increased spending of the O&M fund. The budget estimates that the district will spend almost $ 4 million on operations and maintenance and bring in just over $ 3 million.

The budget estimates that the district will spend $ 2,150,434 on transportation related expenses and generate related revenues totaling $ 2,021,253. That puts the district at just $ 129,181 in the red.

Despite these deficits, the district will have positive fund balances in all categories at the end of the year.

The Board of Directors and other audience members also heard from the American Heart Association and the Waterloo FFA. For more on this, see next week’s document.

The regular Waterloo School Board meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, October 18 at Gardner Elementary School.

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