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Crook County parents protest state mask mandate at school board meeting

(Update: Adding video, comments)

'I will come after you!' says one parent

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Crook County School Board held an in-person meeting Monday evening, and they got an earful from several parents and students upset by the continued state mask mandate for in-school activities and some sports.

With state mask mandates for public schools still in place across the state for students on campus, several parents stepped up to the podium during the public comment section to voice their objections and concerns.

Jessica Lay, the mother of Savannah Lay, who collapsed last month, was one of the main speakers calling on the board to remove the mask mandates for students set by state school, sports and health officials.

Lay questioned why her daughter must be forced to wear something that nearly killed her during a Crook County High School basketball practice.

"Are you going to wait for a child to die before you make a change?" Lay said. "I'm putting the following on notice ODE, OHA, OHSA, all the way up to Governor Brown. You do not have the right to knowingly harm my child with policies you know are not supported by science."

Lay's daughter, Savannah, says she refuses to wear a mask after her traumatic experience, which has kept her sidelined from the team.

"You took my season away from me, and I will never get that back," Lay said. "It's your job as leaders of this school to keeps kids safe, not to harm them." 

Other parents described the mask mandates as "Orwellian" and compared the actions of Gov. Kate Brown to Nazi Germany.

Another speaker, Scott Steward, stood at the podium for nearly 25 minutes to voice his frustrations.

"Why are we following a tyrannical despot, out of control public official by the name of Kate Brown? Why?" Steward said. "We've been told by the University of Oregon president I can't go watch football unless I've been vaccinated or got a mask on. Who does that, people? I mean seriously, are we in Cuba, Venezuela, China? I mean what is this? Is this the United States of America?"

Jennifer Stevens, another mother frustrated with mask mandates, became visibly upset as she aired her concerns.

"We have Communist, Marxist people trying to take over this country, and it is time to take our kids and train them up to be leaders to stand for our freedom -- and that is not freedom," Stevens said. "Because I'm telling you what, I am a mother who is fearless, and I will come after you! I will come after you!"

Brian O'Connor, a retired Crook County High teacher and a Navy veteran, says he wanted to keep things "short" and "sweet" for the board.

"Have some gumption -- tell Salem where to pack it, and do what's right for your people," O'Connor said.

Speakers were technically given three minutes to stand at the podium, but the board let everyone speak freely, sometimes for 20 minutes or more.

School Board Chair Scott Cooper echoed many of the public comments, saying, "This has got to end."

Cooper also mentioned that he expects the state mask mandates to end either later this week or early next week, following the actions taken by California.

Article Topic Follows: Crook County
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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.

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