Before the Prince William County School Board meeting even began on Wednesday, some who planned to participate in the public session made their agenda very clear.
Despite a mandatory mask requirement in the hearing room, some chose not to wear one, despite at least two requests from security staff and police to show proof of exemption or comply.
Prince William County has not been immune to the rancor and division being displayed at school board meetings across the U.S. on topics including social justice, transgender student policies and vaccine mandates.
“Education is free in America, so if anyone was ever going to contemplate a vaccine mandate or anything that was going to limit students from going to school, that sounds like discrimination to me,” one woman said.
Wednesday night's meeting was the first since the school board made changes to its public comment session about three weeks ago, after a meeting descended into chaos and the boardroom had to be cleared for over two hours.
“The enforcement of the masks mandate, the vaccine mandate you passed last month and all the other common sense policies supported by experts and supported by past practice, these all make me feel safer,” another man said.