Mask clash shuts down school board meeting in Rockland County

A Rockland County school board called off a meeting this week after attendees angrily bucked being told to wear face masks, according to a news report.

The episode — one of a number of clashes over masks and vaccinations that have disrupted school board meetings around the country this summer — happened Thursday night at a Clarkstown school board meeting in West Nyack. The school district had previously announced that masks are required indoors in all school buildings.

Amid a national rise in coronavirus cases fueled by the highly infectious delta variant, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended late last month that everyone wear masks inside schools, regardless of vaccination status.

But when audience members at the Clarkstown meeting were told to mask up so the session could start, the room erupted in laughter and jeers, according to The Journal News. Video shot by the newspaper shows unmasked people in the audience shouting at the masked school board members and officials. 

"It's theater! You're all fools!" one man hollers, to applause.

Some masked attendees, meanwhile, yell at other people to cover their faces: "It's simple!" "Put it over your nose!"

"Let's have a civil meeting here," Board President Walter Litvak says at one point.

He ultimately announced the meeting wouldn't go forward, the newspaper said.

With that, some attendees flocked outside to voice their complaints about masks and other issues, taking turns to step up and speak from a picnic table and a lawn.

"I’m not going to school with a mask on, so I'm putting my foot down on this," said 8-year-old Madison Maggino, who is going into third grade. Her mother, Karalyn Maggino, said Madison had struggled through a year of remote learning and going to school in a mask.

The school board went on to hold a hastily scheduled meeting Friday with a stripped-down agenda, scrapping the public comment period and other items.

Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday in the Clarkstown district, about an hour’s drive north of New York City.

Earlier in the week, the school board in the Albany suburb of Guilderland adjourned a meeting for 15 minutes after tensions flared over mask policy for the coming school year, WNYT-TV reported.

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