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Durango school board calls off meeting after audience members refuse to follow COVID-19 policies

Some people refused to wear masks or leave for capacity issues
The Durango School District 9-R Board of Education canceled its regular meeting Tuesday because of audience compliance issues with COVID-19 policies. (Durango Herald file)

The Durango School District 9-R Board of Education was intent on holding its regular meeting Tuesday – until audience members refused to comply with public health policies meant to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The school district required all visitors, students and staff members to wear a face covering, according to meeting policies posted Thursday. There is also a capacity limit for in-person meetings, 50% or 35 people. The policies follow public health guidelines, said Julie Popp, the district’s spokeswoman.

“We had some individuals who did not want to follow those guidelines, so we canceled the meeting,” Popp said. “We’ll be rescheduling it soon.”

The school board met as usual, prepared to hear a presentation from a doctor at Pediatric Partners of Durango, look at testing data and receive an update about the district’s bonds, among other items on the agenda.

The audience that showed up was over the capacity limit, and some audience members refused to leave to comply with the limits, Popp said.

If capacity is reached at a meeting, priority is given to those who are presenting or who submit a public participation form before the meeting, according to the district’s policies. Other community members can watch the meeting from the district’s online streaming channel at durangoschools.org/stream.

On Tuesday, the streaming video was never started because the meeting never formally began, Popp said.

Some audience members also refused to wear masks, as required by the district for visitors, students and staff members, she said.

The only allowance is if a visitor presents a medical exemption. If visitors are unable to follow masking rules without medical exemptions or circumstances, they may be asked to leave the building, according to district policies.

If visitors forget a mask, they may be provided one by district staff and are expected to follow the guidelines, the policies say.

A new meeting date was not available as of Tuesday evening.

smullane@durangoherald.com

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