Updated 11:15 p.m.: The Northport school board temporarily stopped its meeting Thursday night as members of the audience shouted at the trustees about plans to require masks when classes resume in the fall.
The shouting could be heard over Zoom, about 40 minutes after the meeting’s start. Most of the shouts were initially unintelligible as Superintendent Robert Banzer outlined district plans, and noted that the district was in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and statements from Gov. Kathy Hochul that masks would be required in schools.
As Banzer and the trustees tried to continue going over plans, the shouting grew louder, with one man shouting “Bullshit, Banzer. You’re a bunch of cowards.” The members of the board repeatedly reminded the members of the crowd that they would be able to speak at a designated time in the meeting, with one trustee saying, “Please restrain yourself.”
One trustee could be heard reminding the crowd that there students listening to the meeting, and while could be heard to say, “Why don’t you behave like adults?” to someone shouting in the crowd.
When the board meeting resumed, the shouting began again, with a warning from the board that it might summon security if it continued. When a trustee cited Hochul’s decision, a man in the crowd shouted “Cowards” and another insisted the board didn’t have to follow the governor’s statement.
“We’re not where we want to be but not where we were a year ago,” Banzer said.
The board discussed writing to the governor to change rules if the epidemic declines.
At the public session, the first speaker read a letter from his son, who is going into the fourth grade, that complained that mask wearing was annoying. His father concurred, then saying, “The mask situation is ridiculous right now. I back him up 100 percent. These masks in school affect them socially, they can’t see each other’s faces; it’s destroying them. It’s ruining this generation.”
A woman suggested that people who opposed masks and vaccinations shouldn’t seek treatment if they got Covid-19 while others complained about what social distancing would mean for their children or challenged the efficacy of masks in preventing the spread of the virus.