LEWISTON — The School Committee will hold an emergency meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss its previous decision to make masking optional when schools open Sept. 1.

Tempers flared Monday night as the divided committee grappled with whether to allow votes on the masking issue in light of the changing COVID-19 situation.

The agenda item “reopening update” did not specify a vote, which meant the committee would have to agree to suspend the rules.

A motion to do that failed 5-4.

Member Ron Potvin angrily asked how the committee was supposed to address the recent increase in infections and hospitalizations if it were not on the agenda.

“You publicly stated that when things are changing, you would bring this back on the agenda,” he said to Superintendent Jake Langlais.


“We’re dealing with some serious s—,” Potvin said, “then we have to fight to suspend the rules. This affects the public. The public is asking.”

Chairwoman Megan Parks who with Langlais decides what goes on meeting agendas, said any member can request a future agenda item.

Potvin responded that with school starting in less than two weeks, the issue was urgent.

“I’m nervous as we’re moving forward that we have as many things as possible in place to continue the school year,” he said.

He pleaded with the board “to open this thing up, that we have a discussion about doing everything we possibly can for these kids, that we don’t make a mistake.”

Potvin was among the majority that voted Aug. 2 to accept Langlais’ recommendation to make masking optional.


He made a motion for reconsideration of his vote.

“A lot has changed in the past three weeks, and I somewhat had the impression that we would have more discussion around this to clarify and home in on it,” he said. “Just bringing kids back without masks is not enough.”

Member Luke Jensen said the rules would have to be suspended because the vote was not on the agenda.

“Where in Robert’s Rules does it say that a member can’t reconsider his vote?” Potvin asked. “I’d like to see that.”

No one on the committee had the answer, so Potvin withdrew his motion in favor of hearing from the public.

What followed was overwhelming support for mandatory masking in schools.


About a dozen teachers and parents spoke, some tearfully, about underlying health issues and the climbing rates of child illnesses and deaths from the delta variant.

Member Janet Beaudoin suggested holding an emergency meeting to hear from others who were happy with the previous vote and so were no longer commenting on the issue.

“We passed the superintendent’s recommendation to make masks optional,” Beaudoin said. “If we change our minds, we will get an influx of the opposite. We’ll get people happy with optional coming in and emailing us in droves.”

Member Paul Beauparlant spoke emotionally about his support for making masks mandatory without holding another meeting.

“I just can’t imagine people not wanting to make a personal sacrifice to protect others,” he said. “It comes down to public safety trumps personal freedom.”

Member Kiernan Majerus-Collins also objected to the emergency meeting.

The meeting should be scheduled only “if members of this committee are waiting to hear something they haven’t heard yet, or less wonderfully, hoping to count noses (for and against),” he said.

Under procedural rules, at least two members of the committee must request an emergency meeting for it to be held. Parks agreed with Beaudoin.

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