The Belmond-Klemme school board decided Sept. 16 to put off any decision on re-instituting a face mask mandate to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Iowa’s governor signed legislation in late May banning mask mandates in schools. Earlier this month, a federal judge overturned that decision, and a number of large districts in the state have returned to mask requirements. However, those decisions have been met with angry protests by mask opponents at board meetings.
Although Covid-19 cases have been on the rise, especially in children under the age of 18, Superintendent Dan Frazier said it would be “premature to make a sudden decision.” In a written report to the board, Frazier said four students in the district have tested positive for Covid over the past two weeks.
“The state is going to appeal (the judge’s temporary restraining order),” Board President Rick McDaniel said. “What happens if a stay order is issued. Things will go back to the way they are now.”
Boardmember Jim Swenson said, “Right now, we are pretty good.”
Boardmember Gary Berkland said the board can re-visit the decision if cases increase.
Boardmember Marc Schlichting said, “I think if this ramps up again, people are going to do what naturally feels right. I don’t think we need someone telling us what to do.”
McDaniel finished the conversation by adding, “Wear a mask if it makes you feel more comfortable.”
The board may be faced with instituting a vaccination policy under guidelines issued by the federal government recently. Any employer with more than 100 employees would be required to have everyone vaccinated. The B-K district has 130 full-time employees. In addition, the district receives 10 percent of its funding from federal programs that may be in danger if the vaccination mandate is not met.
Employees who refuse to be vaccinated must have a weekly Covid-19 test.
McDaniel said he has already heard from two employees who will not vaccinate or submit to weekly tests.