CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Many school districts in Hampton Roads are returning to strict safety protocols ahead of the first day of school. This includes public school board meetings.
Just a few weeks ago, board meetings like Virginia Beach City Public Schools were packed with many people who had ditched the mask. Now, that’s no longer the case — except for one school district — which has created some confusion among Hampton Roads parents about who decides safety protocols during board meetings.
“I really just want it to be a safe environment for everybody to be able to come and be able to speak,” said Amber Bowmer, a parent of two children in Chesapeake Public Schools.
For weeks, Bowmer has sat through board meetings and watched dozens of people pack the room.
“Knowing that they are aware of the risk, it makes no sense to me that when you go into the school board meeting we’re crammed in there and there’s up to 100 people sometimes inside of that room. The majority of whom are not wearing masks,” Bowmer explained.
Bowmer, who has a rising sixth-grader and ninth-grader in Chesapeake Public Schools, has watched schools like Virginia Beach and Newport News crack down on safety measures like limited seating and mandatory face coverings.
Bowmer reached out to 10 On Your Side asking why Chesapeake hasn’t budged on tightening safety measures.
“It makes me question how safe they’re going to be in the schools. When I see other school board meetings where people are wearing masks, people are distanced,” Bowmer stated.
A spokesperson for Chesapeake Public Schools tells 10 On Your Side safety protocols are developed by the superintendent and the school board clerk with input from board members.
Current policies state masks are optional for vaccinated individuals. Those who are not vaccinated are encouraged to wearing a face covering.
Seating is first come, first served and safety protocols are routinely reviewed.