School Board Evaluates, Extends Mask Mandate

Judy Kramer
Posted 10/5/21

In accordance with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), School Boards in the state were allowed to determine policies regarding wearing of masks at the opening of …

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School Board Evaluates, Extends Mask Mandate

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In accordance with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), School Boards in the state were allowed to determine policies regarding wearing of masks at the opening of schools. These policies were to be made after consideration of community transmission and positivity rates within a community. Per this policy and the guidance of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Henry County School Board voted to mandate the wearing of masks inside schools for 30 days and re-evaluate the situation to determine if the mandate should be extended. The Board extended the mandate at its September 27 meeting for 30 more days, and of the 200 people attending, about 30 disrupted the meeting over this action.
“Everything has gone well in our schools,” said Superintendent Destry Brown. “Some students take their masks up and down and it is a chore to keep them wearing them, but wearing them is keeping our kids in school! Our COVID numbers are low compared to those out on quarantine last year. We have kept our COVID numbers under 50, whereas neighboring school districts have had numbers in the hundreds out of school. It is outside of the school where the noise is. About 80 percent of the people complaining don’t have children in our schools. Some of their children are home-schooled, and some other protestors are not from Clinton. The community as a whole is very supportive.”
Superintendent Brown was taken aback by the disturbance at the school board meeting. Fortunately, some administrative items were taken care of early on in the meeting, and the protests did not begin until the mask mandate was brought up.
“It was discouraging,” said Superintendent Brown. “Some of the protestors were speaking out against the Board members saying that their personal businesses should be boycotted. Some were referring to the mask mandate as being related to the beginning of Nazi Germany. One local businessman who attended the board meeting for the first time wanted his viewpoint heard. Those in attendance who were trying to defend the board were verbally attacked by the protestors. I don’t know how we can get back to where we can talk in a conversation, even if we don’t agree with each other. It is embarrassing and not the way to run our schools. The protestors wore black. We are the Cardinals and our colors are Red and Blue. Why black?”
A check with some school districts close to Henry County revealed some differences in policies for protecting students and staff from COVID. All those checked had policies for distancing, disinfecting and other methods to try and stay safe. The Warsaw R-IX School District began its school year with a mask-optional policy as did the Lincoln R-II, Lakeland R-III, Leesville R-IX, and Windsor C-1 School Districts. However, Lakeland and Warsaw will continue to monitor COVID breakouts. Warsaw policy states that if the number of quarantined and active cases in a building reaches the 10 percent level, masks will become mandatory at that building. Lakeland policy states that if 10 percent or more of the school population tests positive or is on quarantine due to close contact, masks will be required for all students, faculty and staff. On October 1, as a COVID precaution, Lakeland schools closed water fountains in the buildings. Parents were asked to send a water bottle to school with their student.
Calhoun R-VIII recently sent a letter to parents telling them that there were three positive COVID-19 cases and several students out for COVID symptoms. With 23 percent of its total student population absent and 35 percent of the high school absent, the school had to close on September 17 for extended cleaning, sanitation and ventilation. The district is mitigating COVID-19 spread as much as possible with masks and social distancing.
The CDC has issued a mandate that all people on public transportation, including school buses, must be masked.
A report on https://news.stlpublicradio.org, dated September 26, stated that Missouri public school districts can still issue mask mandates, after a Boone County Judge Brouck Jacobs denied Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s effort to block the mandates throughout the state.
A look at https://districtadministration.com revealed that 23 states have mandatory statewide school mask mandates, and many districts within the other 27 states have chosen to have mask mandates.
The October 1 Henry County Health Center report on COVID-19 Updates reports that there have been 2,847 positive COVID tests, 29 people are on isolation, 2,784 have recovered, and there have been 34 deaths. A look at https://usafacts.org shows that there were 13 new COVID cases in Henry County as of October 1.

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