Far-Left Beach School Board Ignores Cries to Remove Masks

by Kerry Dougherty

I’ve seen this movie before, I thought, as I watched Tuesday night’s Virginia Beach School Board meeting on my computer. And I know how it ends.

To the parents lined up to speak in favor of a motion to make masks optional for students this fall I wanted to shout, Save your breath. Their minds are made up.

Have I mentioned I spent 42 years in daily newspapers? Well, I did, and during that time my least favorite assignments were always public meetings. Early in my career I covered the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and School Board for The Washington Post. Later, at The Virginian-Pilot, I covered several different City Councils as well as the Virginia Beach School Board.

Spend enough time in mind-numbing meetings and you notice a tedious predictability in the way they conduct their business.

This is how it goes:

First, the elected officials make up their minds about a controversial issue.

Next, they hold public hearings on the issue as required by law.

Finally, after the last speaker leaves the lectern, they vote the exact way they were going to vote before the hearing started.

Rarely — if ever — have I seen a public official change position as the result of passionate speeches by the unwashed.

Elected officials care little about the public until election time. In fact, many are openly contemptuous of citizens who take up their precious time with emotional pleas.

Most of Tuesday night’s 32 speakers must have known their mission was futile but they clearly care about their kids, so they gave the imperious School Board members an earful anyway.

Some parents were articulate, polite and persuasive. Others were rude and loud.

Didn’t matter. None were heard.

In fact, the board recessed twice Tuesday night when they didn’t want to hear what the feisty speakers were saying.

Members seemed bored by parents who said their children suffer headaches from wearing masks all day. They appeared uninterested in speakers who pointed out that kids are poor vectors of the virus and that they tend to have mild illnesses when they do catch it. They were indifferent when parents pointed out that the flu is far more dangerous than Covid for children and that kids aren’t forced into masks during flu season. Most school board members — all but one unmasked — seemed unmoved when speakers pointed out that most vulnerable Virginians and teachers are vaccinated, why make school children mask up?

They also ignored at least one early childhood educator who claimed that kids need to see facial expressions and smiles and that children with speech problems were suffering delays from the wearing of masks.

When the last speaker finished, the board took a vote and — as expected — only four members sided with the children. Laura Hughes, who introduced the measure, Vicky Manning, Carolyn Weems and Jennifer Franklin. A quartet of good government types.

The six who voted against the resolution were the same board members who fought to keep students out of the classroom for months last year, despite ample evidence that it was safe to return.

Ironically, on Tuesday, WTKR reported that the Catholic Diocese of Richmond would make mask wearing optional in Catholic schools this fall. The decision will be left to the parents.

There may still be time to enroll your kid in a private or parochial school this fall. Scholarships are sometimes available, too.

On Wednesday afternoon Governor Ralph Northam advised schools to keep masks on kids — especially in elementary schools — but left the final decision up to local school divisions.

That’s good news for children in Chesapeake, where the School Board voted in June to make masks optional this year if the governor lifted his emergency order, which he did.

It’s terrible news for Virginia Beach where the far-left majority on the school board is marching in lockstep with teachers unions that are already making noise about demanding universal masking as a condition of returning to classrooms this fall.

Apparently there IS one group that gets the School Board’s attention. Sadly, it isn’t parents. And it certainly isn’t kids.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


23 responses to “Far-Left Beach School Board Ignores Cries to Remove Masks”

  1. vicnicholls Avatar

    As one of those speakers, they are getting an earful and wait until voting time. Double down. We will not stop fighting. Ever.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      1) At the General Assembly I have seen a public speaker or lobbyist in subcommittee or committee flip an outcome numerous times. Modesty prevents me from mentioning names….

      2) The single most important thing is the schools must, must be open with in-person classes. My wife is volunteering in a summer program for remedial work. The damage she is seeing and trying to correct is devastating. These kids MUST be in school in person. If this (yes, really not necessary) mask rules get that outcome, that’s a tradeoff I won’t complain about.

      3) Unless the polling now is different than it was last year, if you think the mask hysteria is a political winner for you, you could not be more wrong. Here and there but not overall statewide. This issue, and only this issue, sank DJT.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        DJT didn’t lose over COVID. He lost because he was an effing idiot with a clear intent to rule like a dictator, and take over Govt agencies and make them do what he wanted instead of the law.

        On the masks , here’s what the American Academy of Pediatrics , a group Conservatives loved prior, said: ” The nation’s leading association of pediatricians released new, highly anticipated covid-19 guidance for schools reopening this fall, recommending that everyone over the age of 2 wear masks, even if they are vaccinated against the virus — a more cautious approach than recent federal directives.

        On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for in-person learning to fully resume and said universal masking should be part of a “layered approach to make school safe for all students, teachers and staff.”

        Folks like Kerry sometimes talk about “mob rule” but then when the “other” mob outnumbers her, she switches gears to complain about not being heard.

        same old. same old. from Kerry….

        1. Stephen Haner Avatar
          Stephen Haner

          After 45 years of writing about and participating in Virginia politics, I bow to Larry’s superior wisdom on election outcomes….

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Yeah, wouldn’t be a great world if people would just admit you’re always right?

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            just my view and I’ve been around for a number of elections also (thought Hillary would lose) – and got virtually all of them right and yes, do read what others write but not all writers are especially insightful, they just like to write. Take Kerry……

            The issue with DJT – is pretty clear now, but many people already had concerns about him and his authoritarian tendencies prior to the election. Others were blind and/or willfully ignorant – and really some still are despite all we know now, most of them GOP and further right.

        2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
          James Wyatt Whitehead

          I think it was because of “drop and roll.”

  2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “They appeared uninterested in speakers who pointed out that kids are poor vectors of the virus and that they tend to have mild illnesses when they do catch it.”

    Tell me, did any of your speakers acknowledge that there are immunocompromised students, teachers, and staff present in most public schools these days? Or did they just shrug them off as well?

    1. Matt Adams Avatar
      Matt Adams

      “Tell me, did any of your speakers acknowledge that there are immunocompromised students, teachers, and staff present in most public schools these days? Or did they just shrug them off as well?”

      The outlined students have the option of remote learning. The teachers and staff who are immunocompromised are aware of the risks and are exposed to any number of viruses every year. What makes this year any different? They can follow the precautions they previously followed.

  3. James C. Sherlock Avatar
    James C. Sherlock

    Excellent assessment.

    Six-year olds in masks. In late August. Presumably at recess as well. Or do they still get recess?

    For the political left, this is not about science of health, but rather about political science.

    Their overall strategy is to drive command and control government to replace the family as the organizing unit of society. We have seen the government of Virginia do that in every facet of K-12 education. Part of it is dogma, part power trip.

    They will continue to exercise every chance they get to take decisions away from families until voted out of office.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      I think the masks outside nonsense is no longer included….

    2. Matt Adams Avatar
      Matt Adams

      There is a surefire way to determine if someone is merely political. When the opposition labels you with “anti” they are merely holding a political stance.

    3. LarrytheG Avatar

      political left: ” The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new Covid-19 guidelines for schools on Monday, recommending that everyone over age 2 wear masks this fall, even if they have been vaccinated. Exceptions may be made for those with medical or developmental conditions that complicate mask wearing, the group said.”

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        Gotta love liberals. The American Academy of Pediatrics is now their favorite “follow the science organization” now that they call for a mask mandate in schools.

        Where were those same liberals when the same group called for reopening the schools to in-person teaching a year ago?

        Where was the righteous might of modern liberalism in calling out the teachers and their associations in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties who kept the schools shuttered in spite of recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics?

        The real liberal theory is to follow the science but only if the science points to ridiculous “rights” for special interest groups and/or government over-reach. Otherwise, declare ambiguity or a lack of data.

        Masks are the MAGA hats of the left.


      2. Merchantseamen Avatar

        I was going to make a comment. However I will let all of you talk the foolishness.

    4. WayneS Avatar

      This is my favorite statement from the AAP guidelines:

      “An added benefit of universal masking is protection of students and staff against other respiratory illnesses that would take time away from school.”

      A more cynical person than I might think they are teeing things up for implementation of permanent masking requirements.

      1. Matt Adams Avatar
        Matt Adams

        What they don’t seem to realize is that mask wearing in China prior to COVID wasn’t for viruses. It was for the pollution.

  4. James C. Sherlock Avatar
    James C. Sherlock

    I support requiring vaccinations for teachers. That is unambiguously supported by the data. The left does not. That is to say teachers unions do not. A distinction without a difference.

    Yet masks for children under the age of 12 is not supported by the science. The children’s unions are their parents. The teachers unions favor this approach. Therefore, so does the political left, who will vote for something like this because the parents don’t want it.

  5. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    The other new thing, is the schools are now open for Community Use reservations for the first tine since March_2020. All of the many adult groups and programs will be back in the school space in the evenings starting September.

    My current understanding is the adult groups need to follow the schools guidelines (masks etc). In Fairfax there seems to be an exception for band music groups, if the adult band groups mandate vaccinations for all members then masks and social distance rule can be skipped.

    Student schools bands will use PPE – facemasks with slits and instrument bell covers- and 6-ft social distance. That rule will be hard to fit into some band rooms.

    1. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

      String instruments are less risk, whereas singing is thought to spread COVID, and wind instruments are treated as if they are in the same higher risk category as singing.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Good. I won’t point the bell of my clarinet at you.

        And yet, with no underlying conditions, little Wyatt is still dead.

        Let’s just keep effing with this virus.

  6. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Missouri — The Slow Me State.

    Is it any surprise that in Missouri people are asking for the vaccine as the ER staff are intubating them? After all, Missouri famously executed a prisoner who decided to save the dessert from his last meal until after his execution.

Leave a Reply