TURNER — The Maine School Administrative District 52 board of directors voted unanimously Thursday to make masking optional, effective immediately.

Students in MSAD 52 could be the first in Androscoggin County to go to school without masks Friday after the practice became ubiquitous last fall.

The discussion moved quickly with hardly any debate. In spite of the Maine Center for Disease Control & Preventions’s recommendation for universal masking until March 7, the board chose to lets students and staff take off their masks Friday.

The meeting drew a rowdy crowd with several dozen parents, students and staff, many of whom were there to appeal the mask mandate.

However, only a handful of people spoke about masks during public comment, because the policy vote was moved before the comment period.

Those who did speak after the vote thanked the board for choosing to end the mask mandate immediately, adding that they felt the decision should have been made sooner.

The meeting was often interrupted by out-of-turn comments from attendees, which resulted in numerous reprimands from the board chairperson. Loud rounds of applause in support of the people who spoke to the board on topics ranging from masks, to sports, to bullying were common during the meeting.

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