Some local school districts are letting the public know that they won't tolerate people at school board meetings who refuse to wear masks or act unruly.

Recent meetings in Wenatchee and Moses Lake have become contentious and angry over various issues, and a large group of unmasked people forced the Wenatchee board to recess twice.

Diana Haglund with Wenatchee schools says they'll consider such behavior a disruption and immediately move the meeting online.

"The board has important business to do, and we want to make sure they're provided a space in which to do that free of disruptions," said Haglund. "So we just wanted to be really clear and up front with people that that is what would happen in the event there was any type of disruption."

The state is requiring face masks at indoor public spaces in reaction a recent spike in COVID-19 from the Delta variant.

The Wenatchee district is trying to avoid a repeat of a meeting last month where there were interruptions several times by a group of roughly 50 unmasked demonstrators, which led to the board moving online.

Haglund says moving meetings to a virtual format still allows for a public comment period, but also lets them silence hecklers.

"The great part about virtual meetings is that we do have some level of control over that public comment," Haglund said. "So, for example, if it were to become a disruption to the meeting, we would be able to end the public comment at that time."

The Wenatchee district has also outlined procedures it will take when meetings become unruly.

The Moses Lake district has released a similar statement drawing attention to the mask requirement. One of its recent meetings became contentious over various policies adopted by the board as well as the requirement for face masks in public.

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