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Rockland school board moves meeting remote due to anti-mask activists' Facebook post

School leaders said they are following the science toe ensure students and staff are safe.

ROCKLAND, Maine — School leaders in Rockland decided to cancel their in-person school board meeting Thursday and go remote due to a post on social media.

The post by the organization Maine Stands Up on Facebook called followers from across the state to attend the meeting to fight for 'medical freedom' when it comes to indoor mask requirements in schools.

RSU #13 School Board Chair Loren Andrews told NEWS CENTER Maine the decision to go virtual was in their powers not for political reasons but for safety.

"We don't have the biggest room. I thought it would be safer if we go remote," he said. "That was my decision"

The decision comes just days after a woman angrily testified before RSU 16 school board members Monday, accusing them of "human trafficking" kids with their COVID-19 protocols.

On Wednesday, parents in Windham demonstrated outside of a school board meeting with signs and a petition to fight masking requirement in their district. 

"We are concerned about what this is doing to our children," organizer Robbin Frost said. "If you think that's political, so be it." 

School leaders in all three towns said they were simply focused on science and following CDC guidelines to protect kids with contact tracing, testing, social distancing and masking.

In this week's CDC briefing, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah and DHHS Commission Jeanne Lambrew said the state is continuing work to get more schools in the state to participated in pooled testing.

"Pooled testing is one of several tools that any school may use," Lambrew said.

While signs show younger kids could soon have access to the vaccine, it could take months. That is why health experts say masking is just another important part of protection.

Andrews said he welcomes the debate from those frustrated by the protocols, but wants parents in his district to understand board members are focused on the safety of students and staff. 

"I respect everybody where they're coming from," he said. "But we feel very confident about our policies and protocols to keep kids safe."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said that a woman angrily accused Gorham school board members of "human trafficking" kids with their COVID-19 protocols. However, it was actually RSU 16 school board members at whom the woman was making these accusations.

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