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Special Meeting of Carmi White County Unit 5 School District Leaves Most in Attendance Disappointed with Outcome

The consortium of anti-maskers present at Tuesday night’s Carmi-White County Unit 5 School Board meeting thought they got their way for a moment and broke out in applause.  Most ended up leaving unsatisfied though.  Following a solid two hours of pleading by community members including some educators, the Carmi-White County Unit 5 School Board opted to adopt an ever so slightly altered Return to School Plan.  About 40 folks came out in an attempt to sway the school board away from requiring in-person instruction and masking.  Just weeks ago, the school board had intended to go with a “masks optional” plan, but following Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s mandate on August 4th, officials were left with the unenviable choice of abiding by that mandate and the CDC, IDPH, and Egyptian Health Department’s recommendation or thumbing their nose at it and leaving the choice to the students/educators.

A total of ten community members, including multiple educators spoke out either directly against the mask mandate or peppering the school board and the organization’s legal counsel with questions aimed at trying to reason with them to drop the directive.

School Board Pete Fulkerson kicked the meeting off saying those wanting to speak would each be given five minutes and reiterating…

He was followed by comments from Angela Spence who was there to advocate for a remote learning option, Matt Garner who asked if parents could sign off on a non-negligence agreement, John Stockton, John Hubele, Kenny Hargrave, Rochelle Hubele, Dusty Aud, Pam Haywood, Cindy Coleman, and Kate Simmons also all delivered impassioned petitions.

Parent Matt Garner addresses the School Board
John Stockton addressing the board
John Hubele speaks to the board
Grandparent of an incoming kindergartner, Kenny Hargrave gives his thoughts Tuesday night
Rochelle Hubele gives her thoughts as a substitute teacher
Dusty Aud talks science to the board
Pam Haywood pleads to the CWC Unit 5 School Board
P.E. Teacher Cindy Colman questions legal council Jim Funk, Superintendent Brad Lee, and members of the board
Kate Simmons, a parent, educator, and coach asks the board to stand up to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker saying it’s the right thing to do now

Legal counsel for the school board, Jim Funk of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys provides the school’s leadership with legal advice.  Whether it’s withholding of funds from the state or insurance liability, he provided a pretty simple to understand metaphor.

Hargrave, who has a kindergartner starting school this fall, likened the relationship between the school board and the Governor to a stay at home mom in an abusive relationship with her husband.

Similar to Hargrave, Kate Simmons who is both a parent of a student and also an educator and coach says it’s time to stand up to Springfield.

Once remarks were over, Board member Tom Scates made a motion to enact the Back to School Plan as written, it failed for lack of a second which had the few dozen maskless faithful cheering.  After making a simple change in language to state that the board would review the plan on a monthly basis with intentions to undo the masking when safe to do so, along with language being drawn up to inform the state’s leaders how many in the community feel, the board passed the plan on a motion by Mitchell, second by Scates and all aye’s save for board member Kelly Ackerman, the lone board member who went maskless all evening.  Board member Brent Hammel was absent.

  1. Darrell Conover
    Darrell Conover
    August 11, 2021 at 10:04 am

    As a parent of 6 children within the school system in carmi, a few questions come to mind
    1.) what are we afraid of?
    Children went to camps, they went to family functions, they played sports, they swam and they went on vacation and nothing happen… but now a mask is required?
    2.) what is the legal ramifications of not following the useless governing body of our state?
    I agree with Mr. Matt Garner on the waiver form for those of not wanting our children to wear masks.. or how about those parents that want masks maybe they are offered a place to have their children attend a place as some sort of quarantine.

  2. Ryan
    August 11, 2021 at 11:09 am

    As an attendee last night, it became pretty clear to me that as soon as a dollar figure was mentioned, specifically an additional $4.4 million in potential aid to the district from the state, it was game over.

    The entire meeting, in my opinion, was all political theater and ended up looking like a pre-planned bait and switch after the first motion failed. The board members got their applause, but almost immediately after, a motion miraculously gets brought forward that is tantamount to kicking the can a little further down the road and bowing down to King Pritzker’s decree. Had the board actually included some tangible metrics, statistics and thresholds to be met, as Mrs. Simmons noted in her comments, it may have been a bit easier to swallow, but they did not and masks are en vogue once again apparently.

    To add insult to injury, a “letter” will be sent from the District to King Pritzker, apparently outlining “concerns”. Extremely wishful thinking, especially when considering these elected school board officials couldn’t even take the time to read documentation sent over by Mr. Aud a day or two prior to the meeting.

    While we should applaud the service of our school board members and always maintain professionalism in our dealings, we must not forget that they are elected officials, making them politicians by default, and politicians should never be given an inch, because they will ALWAYS let you down.

    • Don
      August 11, 2021 at 4:56 pm

      They can be all voted out. But people half to stand up and do it. Some board members thank they will not be voted out and they are probably right. I have Heard it from at least one. That’s what happens when you have a lib board.

  3. Renee
    August 11, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    How can y’all say “nothing happened”?? Cruel in your chosen ignorance. How many people have died now?? How many hospitals are pleading with people? Yeah masks suck. Long haul covid sucks worse. Dying sucks the most.
    What’s the worst that could happen if they mask up?
    What’s the worst that could happen if they don’t?

    • Diana Newton
      Diana Newton
      August 13, 2021 at 4:57 pm

      Hd to scroll way down to reach any sanity. Thank you

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