Board of Education Extends Mask Policy

Board of Education Extends Mask Policy
Posted on 10/06/2021
Board of Education Extends Mask PolicyAt the September 27 Clinton School District regular Board of Education meeting, the board approved a 30-day extension of the current mask mandate. The current masking policy will be re-evaluated again on October 25th.

The CSD began the school year with face coverings being required of all students and staff when indoors (masks are not required when eating, during physical activity, or outside). This masking policy was based on DHSS and CDC guidance which states that if both parties are wearing masks, and an exposure to Covid-19 occurs, the exposed individual does not need to quarantine. This guidance allows a school to significantly reduce quarantines and learning loss, by allowing as many students as possible to continue with in-person learning.

At the meeting last Monday, the Board of Education heard from healthcare professionals from the Henry County Health Center, Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare, and Clinton School District nurse, Julie Balke. The Board was also provided data from surrounding school districts of a similar size. Five patrons who had been approved to speak at the Board of Education meeting also provided input. These patrons both supported and opposed the masking policy.

To make informed decisions, and to monitor the Covid-19 situation within the schools, the Clinton School District collects data on the number of positive cases, quarantines, and saved quarantines (students/staff who were exposed but did not need to quarantine due to the wearing of masks). As of October 1st, 70 students/staff in the Clinton School District have tested positive for Covid-19 this school year. During the month of September, 46 cases were identified. The District has a student enrollment of 1,800 students, and has had approximately 30-50 students in quarantine or isolation at any given time this school year (this equates to less than 3% of the student population). This number would be quite higher if it were not for the current masking policy, which as of October 1st has allowed 228 students to stay in school, participate in activities, receive two school meals a day, etc.

Although the Board of Education was not unanimous in their decision to extend the mask mandate, they remain united in their support of the decision of the entire board to extend the current masking policy. The sentiment of the board is that this decision to extend the mask mandate was based on information provided from local healthcare professionals, the district nurse, data from neighboring school districts, and the input from school staff and community members. The goal from the beginning has been to keep students in school. The board collectively believes that the current policies are allowing this based on the low number of quarantines. The board understands the learning loss that quarantines create for students, the burden it puts on working parents, and the extra work it puts on teachers. Safely keeping students in school is the board’s highest priority.
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