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'Tearful and truly saddened': Coeur d'Alene School Board Chair addresses anti-mask protest

Safety concerns sparked by the group of protesters led to the cancellation of a Coeur d'Alene School Board meeting and district office lockdown.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — In a letter shared Tuesday with Coeur d'Alene Public Schools staff and families, the Board of Trustees chair addressed an anti-mask protest that led to the cancellation of the most recent board meeting due to safety concerns. 

The group of protesters, estimated at up to 200 people, later moved to the district's administrative center on Northwest Boulevard. The district office was placed on lockdown for safety precautions as a result.

Board of Trustees Chair Jennifer Brumley clarified in her letter that "there were never any threats made to trustees or staff" before the meeting on Friday, Sept. 24 was canceled, reiterating that the meeting was postponed for "safety concerns."

"This concern was not specific to any one person or group but my concern included the trustees, the staff present, the officers and the individuals in attendance at the meeting.  Everyone’s safety was at issue in my mind," Brumley wrote in part. 

Law enforcement told Brumley that people outside the door into the Midtown Center Meeting Room, where the meeting was held, were "discussing breaking it down and not abiding by the capacity limit," according to Brumley. The building's capacity is limited to 72 people and the meeting was streamed online for those who could not attend in-person. 

Video shared by KREM 2 also showed the group of protesters chanting, "No more masks."

"It was relayed to me that law enforcement on scene were not prepared to handle this type of situation.  This is the information I had and what I based my decision on," Brumley wrote in part. 

RELATED: Anti-mask protesters lead to cancellation of Coeur d'Alene school board meeting, district office lockdown

Brumley added that she felt "everyone's safety was at issue," which led to her decision to cancel the meeting. 

"This was not a laughable or funny situation. I was tearful and truly saddened. I was concerned for my safety, after the fact, in light of the anger over cancelling [sic] the meeting," Brumley wrote. 

In her letter, Brumley also explained that the board did not make a decision on a mask mandate and there was no press conference announcing one. The board "has not and did not decide to mandate masks despite rumor and conjecture," she added. 

Following the incident, the board is making decisions to address tension in the community and how to hold meetings moving forward. Law enforcement have told board members that there is not a safe venue for the next board meeting scheduled for Monday, Oct. 4, meaning that it will be held via Zoom. Masking will not be on the agenda, according to Brumley. 

Public comment will not be accepted during the Zoom meeting but Brumley encouraged people to send emails with their comments to trustees@cdaschools.org.

Brumley ended her letter by thanking teachers and staff for their work.

"I can’t tell you how much the Board appreciates everyone’s commitment to kids. Thank you for being steadfast in doing amazing work in our classrooms and for our students," she wrote.

Editor's Note: Main video in this story was originally published on Friday, Sept. 24. 


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