“Thank you for not keeping us safe”: Kennewick students, parents speak out at school board meeting

Members of the Kennewick School District community spoke out about mask policies and their response to recent threats

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Members of the Kennewick school community made their voices heard at a recent school board meeting, making light of a recent threat and frustrations over the school district’s mask policy.

Last week was an eventful one for Southridge High School, where students protested the Kennewick School District’s (KSD) mask policies. That’s when several students told KAPP KVEW’s Neil Fischer that the mask policy wasn’t properly enforced.

Additionally, a teenage burglary suspect accused of stealing guns from a Tri-Cities business was spotted on the Southridge High campus. That led to a widescale lockdown that impacted three schools in the area.

RELATED: Teen burglar arrested one day after visiting Southridge High campus, locking down neighboring schools

An impassioned student named Karma took the stage during Wednesday night’s school board meeting:

” Thank you for not giving us the privelage to be able to know what our classmates and teachers actually look like. Thank you for not keeping us safe. On January 20th, that was last Thursday, there was a school shooter threat, and a picture posted to the teachers. Later one of my teachers had told me that if he hadn’t made a bond with his students throughout the school year, he would not have been able to tell the difference between his students and the shooter. “

While student safety was a key topic of discussion, most of the discourse came from students and parents who vehemently opposed the school district’s mask policies.

This outrage comes during the region’s largest spike in COVID-19 case counts; when one in 30 Tri-Cities residents has an active case of the virus.

RELATED: A handful of Southridge High School students speak out against KSD mask requirements

A Kennewick School Board member named Gabe Galbraith plans to issue a letter to Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal.

“…in partnership with a school board member in Richland, Audra Byrd, we have authored a letter individually. We have now 150 school board directors across the state who have signed onto that letter to make masks optional. And we will be sending that to the governor and Superintendent Reykdal this Friday.”

Currently, masks are required in all Kennewick School District facilities. Community members were repeatedly asked to put their masks back on or leave the meeting.

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