Mask use was mixed at the Oct. 26 Douglas County School Board meeting, where people gave public comment for hours about COVID-19 policies in the district. (Jessica Gibbs, Colorado Community Media)

This story first appeared in a Colorado Community Media newspaper. Support CCM’s neighborhood news. The Colorado Sun is an owner of CCM.

They’re sociopaths. They should resign. Nothing but dictators. They don’t care about kids, they just use them as political pawns.

Those are a few of the comments slung at Douglas County School Board members and the district’s superintendent during an emotional, hours-long board meeting Tuesday.

“They are possessed with the spirit of tyranny,” a man in the audience said about the board.

But to other speakers, the board is a desperately needed sign of hope in a county where other elected officials have walked back COVID-19 safety measures. Those speakers said they support masking mandates, for their vulnerable loved ones, and their children with disabilities. Several lamented COVID-19 misinformation shared at meetings.

“I appreciate you fighting for the mask mandate,” said a mother of children with disabilities.

Like numerous others during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tuesday school board meeting stretched late into the night after dozens of people gave public comment.

The agenda included talks about compensation, a capital master plan and staff recognitions, but most people had come to talk about masking policies and COVID-19. A few broached equity in education too.

The meeting came hours after a federal judge temporarily blocked an order from Douglas County’s new board of health that allowed people to opt out of the school district’s rule that everyone wear masks in its schools as a pandemic-safety measure.

U.S. District Judge John Kane had granted a temporary restraining order requested by the district’s civil lawsuit against the new Douglas County Health Department.  For at least two weeks, the district will be able to resume its policy requiring masks unless someone has a medical exemption.