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Monday, October 25, 2021

Brevard County School Board weighs changes to public comment rules following months of mask debates

Posted By on Mon, Oct 25, 2021 at 11:44 AM

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Brevard County School Board members are considering limiting the amount of time speakers get for public comment, after several meetings have dragged on for hours.

The idea that changes might be necessary came after a heated start to the school year that saw many districts considering mandatory masks to protect students against COVID-19. This led to a heated response from parents and and anti-mask activists that stretched meeting times to previously unseen levels. During a meeting hammering out a possible solution to the overly long meetings, Chair Misty Belford said the strain of such long sessions makes it difficult to do their jobs.

“We’ve has some marathon board meetings, and I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t feel like I am at my best after we’ve sat in these seats for 12 hours and are at that point trying to make a decision,” Belford said at a policy development workshop, per Florida Today. “We’ve got to be reasonable with ourselves and staff who … oftentimes they get here at five o’clock in the morning, and they’re still here with us at 11 o’clock at night.”

The new rules would adjust public comment time limits based around the number of speakers who sign up before the meeting. It would also bar large signs, flags on poles and other disruptive items from being brought into the chambers. Additionally, the rules would take away certain speakers' platform, pushing non-agenda speakers to the end of the meeting and turning off the cameras before that section begins.

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