Hinsdale District 86 school board berated at meeting for keeping mask mandate

HINSDALE, Ill. (WLS) -- Parents and community members berated the Hinsdale District 86 school board for keeping their mask mandate in place at a meeting Thursday night.

"You are a dysfunctional board and should resign," said resident Roger Hempa.

Attendees masked and unmasked were face-to-face with school board members during the meeting which grew heated at times.

READ MORE: Chicago Archdiocese mask mandate lifts; questions remain for other schools

"I am not going to be cowered by a mob-- mob mentality," said board vice president Kathleen Hirsman as she was booed.

It's been nearly a week since a downstate judge ruled against the state's school mask mandate. The ruling is being appealed. Several districts have responded by going mask optional, but Hinsdale D86 has continued its mask requirement.

"We are exhausted from being manipulated and exploited into wearing masks. Time is up for the government and the school board mandating these masks," said student Sydney Pjesky.

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"I'm not scared of COVID, and many of my classmates aren't either. What I'm scared of is the emotional toll these past two years have taken on every teen in this school," said Addison Linn, student at Hinsdale Central.

The board debated whether to make a change.

"Whether we make a decision to go mask optional or not, there's a risk on both sides. There's a risk of litigation on both sides," said school board member Erik Held.

"Three hundred fifty schools in the state have chosen to go mask optional. I'm assuming those particular districts aren't taking egregious risks either, and we can go mask optional," said school board member Jeff Waters.

In the end the board voted 5-2 to continue the mandate. Many in attendance left unhappy.

The meeting was marked by frustration and division, but multiple community members called for unity at the end of a contentious week.
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