By Linda Cicoira
Accomack County Administrator Mike Mason notified members of the Board of Supervisors early Wednesday morning to alert them that he restricted public access to the second floor of the county’s administration building due to threats to school officials regarding their face mask policy. Half of the second floor is used for school offices.
“The Superintendent did not ask for this reaction, but he made me privy to the context of some of the threats that have been made,” Mason wrote in the email to the supervisors. “The Admin building is a county building and based on the nature of what I heard, I’m going to take this proactive step whether he, (Superintendent Chris Holland), supports it or not. Each suite door will have a telephone number posted, that customers can call to gain entry, if they do not have an access pass. I don’t take this step lightly but it is necessary for the safety of our employees,” Mason continued. “Hopefully, things will calm down in a couple of weeks and we can resume business as normal.”
School Board Member Janet Turner was unaware of any threats when she was contacted later in the day. “Everyone I’ve encountered has been polite,” she said, adding, “I would not even call them upset.”
Turner said she recently voted for the division to continue to require the wearing of masks due to the surge of COVID-19, that 25 percent of the students have been absent from school, and in the interest of protecting facility and staff so schools can remain open and virtual learning will not have to be initiated.
“I talked to several teachers. I talked to parents,” she continued. “We’ve only received a few emails that were about parents wanting to choose whether their children wear masks to school. There was a large presence of parents at Tuesday night’s board meeting, despite that public participation was not allowed. Turner said all those that she saw were wearing masks. They were also holding signs stating that they wanted the choice.
“I would like the School Board to continue to evaluate the situation,” Turner said.