A parent who left a meeting of the Pinellas County School Board in Florida on the subject of face masks was arrested by the school district police on Tuesday night in front of her two children for allegedly refusing to wear a mask in the building.
Kari Turner, a 40-year-old parent, was arrested and charged, according to the Tampa Bay Times, with assault on a correctional officer, trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Turner’s daughter showed footage of Kari’s arrest in social media. School Board Chair Carol Cook promised to publish a more detailed report on Turner’s arrest in the interest of full transparency.
That same evening, another parent, Debra Williams, told The Times that an officer had chased her out of the building while he threateningly handcuffed her. Two other parents, Sam Stefano and Michelle Stille, said that the police blocked their exit and insisted that they put on a mask.
Stille accused the police of escalating the situation and wondered why parents were not allowed to simply leave the building, much like buyers who are allowed to leave stores if they do not follow the mask policy.
Parents who disagreed with the school board’s masking policy said that face masks could affect people with anxiety or respiratory health problems and would lead to lower school enrollment rates. Others said that masks were not necessary in schools because of the low COVID-19 and related death rates in the community.
Proponents of the directive say that compulsory face masks give many parents the assurance that it is safe to send their children to personal instruction and that face masks help reduce COVID-19 transmission.
The school board approved the directive on compulsory face masks in a 4:1 vote, but promised to review the directive every three months. Washington Newsday approached the school board for comments.
Pinellas is a coastal district near Tampa, Florida, where the cities of Clearwater, Seminole and St. Petersburg are located. On November 10, the district ranked seventh among Florida’s 67 districts with the highest total number of COVID 19 cases. Pinellas recorded 28,032 COVID-19 cases and 833 related deaths.
As of November 10, Florida ranks third in the U.S. states with the highest total number of COVID-19 cases. The state recorded 852,000 cases and 17,247 related deaths.
Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis recently hired Kyle Lamb, a COVID-19 conspiracy theorist, to analyze the state’s coronavirus data, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday.
In the past, Lamb has tweeted misleading claims of COVID-19, including that facial masks could not contain the spread of the virus, that deaths from COVID-19 virus were comparable to influenza – which was refuted by data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – and that hydroxychloroquine could treat the symptoms of COVID-19, a claim that was refuted by medical studies.