Opponents Of Masking Vent At School Board

A group of individuals against masking commandeered a discussion on Yankton School District’s (YSD) anti-bullying policy at Monday’s school board meeting, using the opportunity to berate board members for the current mask mandate.

The group’s objections were raised at a time when COVID cases are surging across the state. As of Monday, Yankton’s active COVID cases reached their highest level in more than a year. Also, for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, all of South Dakota’s counties were rated with high community spread of the coronavirus.

The school board heard the scheduled comments from the public as part of its first review of proposed edits to the Yankton School District (YSD) Anti-Bullying/Harassment Policy and expects to vote on the updated document at its February meeting.

None of the complaints were directed at the proposed changes or the existing policy, except to accuse administrators and school board members of bullying parents and students with required masking.

The school board was accused of setting itself above the community and dictating terms with threats of retribution if those directives are not obeyed.

One person said she and her children were bullied for not wanting to mask, while another said his child is being denied, because of a speech delay, his right to a maskless education while the school district hosts athletic super-spreader events. A third person read from the Bible and compared school board members to the Pharisees of Jesus’ time.

Board members were repeatedly called bullies and were accused of being in violation of their own policy.

The tone throughout was combative and voices were, for the most part, raised. One woman told the board that, simply by wearing masks they were being bullies and that everyone in the room masking was also a bully. Another said masks are dirty and described soiled masks in detail, challenging the board to stop the mandate. One mother told the board that all teachers and students live in fear of retribution by administrators and board members, for not wanting to mask.

There were no comments from the school board on the masking complaints.

Returning to the original discussion, one board member did ask if the proposed anti-bullying changes were handed down by the state. YSD Curriculum Director Nicole Valnes said that they were.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Yankton Middle School (YMS) Principal Heather Olson told the board about the recent YMS dance.

“If you’ve never been to a YMS dance, you probably need to go because it’s the best two hours of your life,” Olson told the board. “I always invite you. We do have one in the spring. You’re always welcome.”

Olson also detailed changes to the YMS course catalog for the 2022-2023 school year, which the board approved.

Tony Beste, Lincoln Elementary School principal, told the school board about third graders putting together blankets and donating them to Pathways Shelter for the Homeless.

“I think it’s a good example of where our students’ hearts were at, just wanting to help others,” he said. “(That was) a really good that was student driven.”

Also student driven was the enthusiastic participation in Christmas Dress-Up Days, he said, which brought a fun and festive atmosphere to Lincoln school in the days leading up to Christmas.

(13) comments


Thank you Cora for reporting the sheer disrespect that was demonstrated by those who used the review of the anti-bullying policy to complain about masking. The school board is in an impossible position. They are trying to do the right thing based on the most current information they have available. On behalf of the majority of school district residents, thank you for your service, and for putting up with the disrespectful (bullying) behavior of those who berated you.

It starts approximately 5 minutes into the meeting. https://youtu.be/SYCFpeXIOMs


Glad y ou shared a link to the meeting because to me it sounds like the school needs to do a better job of working with families whose children have learning disabilities. They are the most negatively impacted so is there a way to hire someone whose role it is to help them? Is there federal money for this? I don't know what resources are in place, but I sympathize with them. I also think they should wear masks at activities if they are going to allow the public. The women who compared the masking policies to the persecution of the apostles and who argued that people wearing masks become awful people who are more likely to tell lies, act badly, and feel no guilt or remorse are a little hard to take seriously, even if they have a few valid concerns. We are all trying to learn how to live safely during a pandemic. The school is trying to stay open. Educators are not bullies for enforcing a masking requirement, although maybe there are some teachers who don't do it professionally. If everyone acted like they were part of a team then maybe they wouldn't have to feel singled out for not following the rules. I also think its hypocritical to wear masks and socially distance for these meetings and then not require it at the Summit Center. I'm glad these people spoke up even if I don't agree with everything they are saying. I can tell some of there concerns come from a place of hurt and frustration.


As the first person to speak and having a special needs son I have been told he’s not even supported under FAPE and IDEA which is a law since 1973 by some of the people there even. I’ve been lied to by the school. Bullied into submission under falsehood. Our situation has been reported to the state who says I’m in the right. This is exactly why I spoke out. They are hurting kids who need a different type of learning. My sons report card that came home this week even shows he’s regressing in some areas. I think it’s also troubling that we can’t even get on the agenda for masks. This same paper did a poll and less than 1/3rd of the voters even want the mandate. The school board looked at the petitions and completely ignored it. There’s a huge problem. The lack of facts in this article is a problem as well. It’s sad and very frustrating. This is our home. We have to fix our home for our children. We can’t fix DC and other big problems if we don’t fix our own home. Without a mandate any child or staff can still wear a mask. Also did you know the admin building doesn’t wear a mask 7:30-3:30, just the schools. Also like to note I literally read the policy to the board.


Thanks ANow for commenting with that information. You are definitely not alone in having your child's performance go down in the last two years. The whole world is seeing this happen and so the sooner we can get everyone doing their part to get rid of the virus, the better. Not wearing masks will only increase the spread and make this whole process take even longer! Still it sounds like your situation needs to be handled better and I hope the district can provide some learning alternatives that work better for your child and also keep everyone else safe. I will say that I don't think it's hard to stay distanced at the administration offices on a daily basis, so I can understand why they might not wear masks there unless meeting with the public or meeting in groups. Before Omicron the vaccine did most of the hard work and I would guess that most or all are all vaxxed and bosted over there. Not requiring masks at sports and activities is the thing I don't understand, but I've repeated that several times now. Still, if you have been lied to then that's really bad. Once they have betrayed a parents trust things go down hill fast. The last thing I'll say is that the polls on this website are easy to skew so I wouldn't use them to support and argument. I've been sent emails by different groups asking me to vote before and we all know how to skew the results. Still, thanks again and good luck to you and your family.


Actually the department of education in SD has a sped book that was given to the schools. Page 7 states “ Cloth Face Coverings (Masks)

The CDC has issued Guidance for Wearing Face Masks and notes in some situations, wearing a cloth face covering may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency, or introduce significant safety concerns. Adaptations and alternatives should be considered to reduce risk.

It may be necessary for the IEP team to determine how a student with a disability will utilize a cloth face covering.”

“The IEP team decision should be based on the individual needs of the student and not be made unilaterally for a group of students.”it’s interesting how the department of education told me all schools were given this. They made sure not to give this to the parents though and continued to lie to me (district). While I realize they want to keep our kids “safe” at some point these kids (all.. not just special needs kids) need parental decisions made and not unilaterally adopted for all kids. Each kid is very different and only the parents can make the best decisions for them…. Because they are the parent not the school or strangers on the schoolboard. Real question is why are we intent on the masks when it’s very obvious they aren’t working. Covid isn’t going anywhere. It’s been pretty universally discussed that it’s here to stay. So everyone needs to wear a mask forever? That seems asinine… Covid has been around for 2 years+. If a person can’t make their own decisions then give them information to help them. Most adults can and will make their own decisions. I for one don’t need anyone’s help deciding for my own offspring. When did it become ok for strangers to be in everyone else’s business with their health? There’s a thing called hippa. People need to learn to live and let others live. You can have an opinion but you won’t always be right. My dear you do what you can for your family and I’ll keep making the decisions for my own.

What is the school doing with the 2.8 million dollars of Covid relief from the American rescue plan? Why do so few people even know they got that money? Do so few people even care about our schools and kids? That can’t be so, right? Did you know august 16th the school received that money, august 23rd on the first day of school they wanted a meeting so august 31st they held a meeting where majority of parents spoke about no mask. They masked anyways. Weird how that happened right after a huge chunk of money fell in their lap. I don’t think it’s just ironic. Our kids are the most hurt by people who shouldn’t even have a say.


This parent would like to thank the members of the board for voting yes on the masking requirements. The board has made community health a priority so that our schools can stay open. That is a good thing!


This is a challenging time for all us as it relates to the Covid-19 pandemic, & we are all tired of talking about it, hearing about it & dealing with it. Unfortunately, it is reality & for most of us we deal with it & move on. Shame on those that want to berate, belittle, blame & accuse our volunteer school board members & administration for wanting & trying to do what is right & in the best interest of our kids, our community & our school system. To those that are blaming & pointing fingers at the school board & administration, look at the example you are setting & the message you are sending to your kids by acting the way you are acting. Be better than that, be bigger than that! This isn't easy for anyone & to come out & attack our volunteer school board members & our school administrators isn't right. There are so many other things & bigger things going on in this world we should be focusing our efforts & energy on, complaining about wearing a mask shouldn't be one of them.


What I find as perplexing as I do sad, is the inability for reasonably intelligent people to figure out the truth. Folks, there is equal opportunity for everyone to do a little research and learn how this covid problem has been politicized and used as a weapon of division. When real treatment protocols replace the death sentences dictated by three letter government agencies will we possibly get you to pay attention - you're all being fooled! Stop with the masks. Stop with the poison darts. Start doing some critical thinking and get your answers from sources who truly care about you. You know, the voices that are stifled for speaking the truth.


What's 'perplexing' is those individuals believing that 98% of the people aren't informed and aren't paying attention. It is the 1% extremists on both sides that are perpetuating the problem and making this about something other than what it actually is.


I would estimate more than half of the people are using mainstream media for their information. Sadly, they ARE the problem - the MSM and their followers!

We have seen the advice flip flop continuously and some people still don't question the credibility of the "official" story. If this was truly about health we would see hazardous waste/biological waste containers for masks. We would probably be required to wear disposable gloves as do food workers, but nope, it's all being played up for an agenda. The schools and hospitals receive HUGE compensation to play their part - even to the point of death!

When the truth starts to spread, I hope people will not be as gullible as they've been so far. I hope they all become "extremists" in their desire to hold this administration and all who are complicit, fully accountable for the losses brought by this horrible scam. That time may soon be coming. Pray that we all see the truth revealed.


The more you explain your position, the more it sounds like you expect compassion to be a one-way street. Your child may be entitled to special accommodations, and maybe the district is being crappy about it but now you are using your child's situation to fight the policy for very different reasons. The Omicron variant is spreading so fast because even though good masks do help, inconsistent policies, lack of vaccinations and lack of compliance with protocols does the opposite. The virus is continuing to spread and mutate because we are not unified. Half the country is being manipulated to make sure that fighting the pandemic fails. They're being manipulated to distrust everyone so that things will be a mess for the next two years between elections. Standing up for your child's mental health and education is admirable, but fixing things at home requires compassion and recognizing it is a two-way street. The problem here and everwhere in this country is that we only know anger with one another. I'm done but whomever is reading this please find some way to practice compassion in your life, and find it for someone you disagree with. Fixing things at home starts with looking at our own hearts.


You just keep fueling the divide. Apparently I’m talking to someone who thinks they know everything. Law is law. It mutated because that’s what viruses do. What a weirdo.


Classic deflect to blame problems you have no business in to begin with on people who it’s affecting. You really should consider your own advice honestly. Keep fueling the divide. I even quoted what the DOE said and you’re still hanging on to hope that you’re not wrong. But you are. Don’t forget it’s a two way street ;)

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