District 45 school board ends face masks meeting without vote after reported physical altercation

VILLA PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- A west suburban school board meeting adjourned without a vote on mandatory face masks after heated debate turned into a reported physical altercation.

District 45's school board meeting in Villa Park featured yelling, heated words and tense moments. They threatened to adjourn early after some in the audience refused to comply with the meeting's mask requirement.

"We're going to probably end up adjourning and holding our meeting on Zoom at another time," said Board President Judy Degnan.

District 45 is a K-8 district serving students predominantly in Villa Park and Lombard, and the superintendent has recommended that school board vote to approve a face mask requirement for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status for the upcoming school year.

The district says the masking policy would be in line with CDC recommendations for students and staff in areas seeing substantial COVID spread. That is the case in DuPage County, where the test positivity rate has increased more than a point in the past week or so.

After a 45 minute delay, the meeting continued without mask enforcement.

"I'm a little disappointed that parents are being allowed to break the rules this evening in front of the children," said Tracey Gzamouranis, parent.

The parents were split on whether the mask mandate is necessary.

"It makes absolutely not sense to unmask children who are not eligible for the vaccine," said Andrea Smolek, parent.

"It's horrific that they're injuring their own children with having to wear a mask," said Bradley Donald. "But even more horrific, you want to harm someone else's child to have them have a mask on. That's shame on you. Shame on your for doing that."

While the discussion was civil for much of the night, there was a sudden altercation in the hallway. Witnesses said an argument led to pushing. One person was led away after appearing to suffer a panic attack.

The board adjourned without a vote.

"Out of concern for the public safety and for our own safety, we are going to adjourn this board meeting," Degnan said.

The board is planning to reschedule that vote for a later date, but it's unclear if the next meeting will be in-person or via zoom
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