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North Allegheny Board Ends Meeting After Audience Members Refuse To Wear Masks

North Allegheny Junior/Senior High School

The North Allegheny School board abruptly ended its meeting Wednesday night after some attendees who gathered in the high school auditorium refused to wear masks.

The district is bound by a temporary restraining order issued earlier this week by a federal judge, requiring everyone on school grounds to wear a mask. But some who attended the meeting Wednesday night refused to follow the order, which prompted the board to end the meeting before it officially began.

Before starting the meeting, board President Andrew Chomos told people in the crowd that masks were available and that the meeting couldn’t begin until all were wearing masks to mitigate COVID-19. When members of the crowd didn’t follow those instructions, the board entered an executive session for nearly 30 minutes.

Some in the audience still refused to wear masks. District Solicitor Alfred Maiello read a portion of the restraining order over a mix of chants and yells. He told the audience that it didn’t matter whether he was for or against masks and that the district was legally obligated to obey the injunction.

Then the board meeting ended.

“We’ll see you in September,” Chomos said as he walked off the auditorium stage to a mix of boos and cheers.

The live stream of the meeting ended a short time later. More than 80 people had registered to speak on masking guidance, according to the meeting agenda.

Administrators in Allegheny County’s second-largest district had updated its health and safety plan earlier this month to mandate masks in schools. The board later voted to reverse that decision, however, during a meeting that had been advertised as addressing only hiring matters.

A group of parents filed a lawsuit Sunday arguing that the decision to make masks optional violated due process, according to the Tribune-Review. More than 1,500 people have signed an online petition asking for a mask mandate until all kids under 12 can be vaccinated.

Sarah Schneider is WESA's education reporter. From early learning to higher education, Sarah is interested in students and educators working to create more equitable systems. Sarah previously worked with news outlets in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Idaho. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she worked for the school newspaper, the Daily Egyptian.