Heated school board meeting leads to one arrest; officials vote to continue mask requirement

For hours, dozens of parents spoke at Tuesday’s Pinellas County School Board meeting. Many are still upset their kids are required to wear face masks inside classrooms.

“The masks are physically and psychologically abusing children,” one woman said.

Another woman became so upset, she had to be asked to leave, leading to a confrontation and her eventual arrest.

Officers with the school district said Kari Turner refused to wear a mask while in the lobby outside of the meeting room. Turner now faces charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct, and battery on a law enforcement officer.

Kari Turner

Despite loud objections, the board voted 4 to 1 to continue requiring face coverings for students and teachers inside classrooms.

“The people that we are not hearing from today are also the ones that wrote to us that say please keep the face masks in place,” said Carol Cook, who sits on the board.

Public health professionals say with cases on the rise – masks are the safest way to keep schools open.

The decision comes as the positivity rate for Pinellas County reached 9.5% Monday -- bringing the two-week average to above 5%.

Several weeks ago, Pinellas County had one of the lowest positivity rates in the state.