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Kenosha School Board ends meeting after crowd refuses to social distance

The board, like many in southeast Wisconsin in the last few weeks, was set to discuss the district's COVID-19 protocol.
Posted at 8:47 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 15:42:16-04

KENOSHA — The Kenosha Unified School District Board ended its meeting Tuesday night after the crowd would not follow the board's requests to social distance.

"We will not begin the meeting until we have the social distancing in this room that we require," said board president Yolanda Adams at the meeting.

Dozens of parents and members of the community filled the meeting room at the Kenosha Unified School District building. They tried to start the meeting themselves by singing the National Anthem and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Adams spoke to TMJ4 News after the meeting over the phone. She said the board was prepared to stay for as long as it takes to listen to the dozens of people signed up for public comment, but she didn't want a "super-spreader event."

"We need to find a bigger venue, so I will adjourn the meeting and we will hold it on another day, and please watch for the date and time, thank you," Adams said at the meeting.

TMJ4 heard officials ask the crowd twice to spread out to overflow rooms. The crowd did not dissipate, and after a few minutes the board said it would hold the meeting another time and walked out. That's when the crowd booed and chanted.

The crowd circled up and discussed trying to start a recall. Some stood on chairs. Many of them expressed they don't want masks required in schools.

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"Right now this group of parents feels that they’re willing to take the risk," said parent Amanda Nedweski. "They are OK with it, they are signaling, I am sending my child to school, I'm OK if they get COVID, we'll know how to deal with it."

Kenosha administrators are recommending students in grades 6 and younger be required to wear a mask until vaccines are available for them. Otherwise, it suggests masks remain optional for students in grades the 7 through 12. It recommends circling back on the mask policy as it monitors community case and vaccination rates.

The CDC recommends everyone wear masks in schools regardless of vaccination status.

Nedweski says she is a lifelong area resident and has two students in the district.

"I feel that this was a cop out, and it was a sign of cowardice that they were afraid to face the people, or possibly it was a grasp at power," Nedweski said. "Maybe they thought I'm going to flex my muscle and I'm not going to bow to your demands. Well this is a public meeting, it was scheduled at 7 p.m. in this room with the legal amount of given notice."

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Earlier on Tuesday, Kenosha Education Association President Tanya Kitts-Lewinski told TMJ4 News she signed up to speak virtually at the meeting because she was concerned for her safety.

Board President Adams said a new meeting notice will likely go out midday Wednesday. She added armed security and police officers typically are called to meetings with "controversial issues."

The Kenosha Unified School District Board meeting has been rescheduled to Thursday, August 26, 2021, at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held virtually.

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