Every student, teacher, staff member and visitor will wear a mask or face shield while inside buildings or on a bus in the Belmond-Klemme school district. The school board came to that decision on a 5-2 vote at the July 16 meeting.
Discussion on the matter took over one hour, and the two dissenting votes came from Ryan Meyer and Marc Schlichting, the only person in the room who did not wear a mask at the meeting.
B-K was the last of the Wright County schools to decide to have in-person classes and require face masks. The county school administrators met earlier in July with public health officials and medical personnel in what was billed as an “education summit.” According to a report in the Wright County Monitor last week, “The school officials were pleased that the local experts were 100 percent on board with school resuming in person for all students on a daily basis on Aug. 24. Sandy McGrath of Wright County Public Health emphasized, ‘It’s important to get kids back in the classroom.’ Iowa Specialty Hospital’s Dr. Michael McLoughlin agreed. ‘It makes the most sense to reconvene school. To be out of school is devastating not only educationally, but also socially and nutritionally for many children.’
“McLoughlin also noted that the CDC has concluded that the virus is spread ‘mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact, and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.’ The doctor explained that school is a feasible option this fall, especially because of what they now believe about the coronavirus and children. He said, ‘Kids don’t get infected as easily or as badly and kids aren’t as affective as transmitters.’”
B-K Superintendent Dan Frazier said the district is purchasing five washable face masks for all the adults who work in the district - one to wear each workday. The lower elementary students will be provided with face shields which will be cleaned at the end of each day and left at school. It was also decided that one mask will be provided for each student in fourth through twelfth grades.
In addition, the district will space out desks as much as possible in classrooms, and all desks will face the same direction, stagger start and dismissal times to cut down on congestion in the hallways, and serve lunch in classrooms with disposable tableware. Students will stay in their classrooms during the day with teachers coming to them. The plans are also to hold music and physical education classes outside as often as possible. Students will have assigned seats on buses.
Frazier said there will be hand sanitizer in every classroom, and the janitorial staff will focus on cleaning “high touch” areas after school is dismissed every day.
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