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COVID-19

Anti-mask protests force three Vancouver schools into lockdown

By Becca Robbins (Vancouver, Wash.) Columbian

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Skyview High School, Alki Middle School and Chinook Elementary School were placed on lockdown Friday when people protesting Washington’s mask mandate in schools tried to get inside the high school, according to Vancouver Public Schools.

Students and staff were placed on lockdown at around 11:15 a.m. for about an hour, according to district spokeswoman Pat Nuzzo, when about 12 people approached Skyview’s entrance. School security and administrators kept the people out of the building, Nuzzo said.

The district sent an email to families with students at any of the three schools stating that normal operations continued throughout the day. Once the lockdown was lifted, students followed a modified schedule, Nuzzo said. Typically, locking down a school means that visitors are restricted but classes continue as normal.

According to posts on social media, Joey Gibson and other members of right-wing groups, such as Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys, were at the rally. This was the second day protesters gathered outside of the high school.

Administrators were in touch with the protesters, Nuzzo said, to ensure the schools remained safe. She said most of them left once they were told to leave campus, although about 15 stayed on the sidewalk.

According to Sgt. Alex Schoening, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office had previously received complaints about the group “but nothing of a criminal nature.”

School board president Kyle Sproul told OPB that locking down the schools was the best decision to ensure safety.

“Regardless of one’s stance on mask mandates, I think most parents in our community agree that protesting at our school campuses and disrupting the school day is not in the best interest of students,” Sproul said.