Centre removes mask mandate
As of Tuesday, students, teachers, and visitors to Centre schools are still encouraged to wear masks, but they are no longer mandatory.
The decision to discontinue the mandate was made Monday by the board of education, pursuant to the passage of SB 40 by the state legislature, which gives full authority to districts to change their policies.
Discussion prior to the action included a review of an online survey of district constituents regarding mask wearing. Results showed 70 percent against and 30 percent for continuing the mandate. The board read some of the responses voters gave for their choices.
Superintendent Susan Beeson said that between March 29 and April 11, Marion County had four new cases.
Thieen Antoszyk supported recommending but not mandating masks.
Eric Carlson was concerned that if one case of infection showed up, it would spread.
“There are only 31 days left in the school year,” Yvonne Burhoop said. “Why not keep the mandate and enforce it.”
Lance Diepenbrock said enforcing masks takes away from teachers’ instruction time.
“They spend all their time trying to keep students wearing their masks,” he said.
Bus driver Annette Nienstedt said she needed to enforce mask wearing on her bus.
“I cannot get sick,” she said. “I have health issues. We don’t know if masks are helping, but they may be helping.”
The motion to drop the mandate passed in a 5-2 vote. It states:
“Effective Tuesday, April 12, 2021, the board of education rescinds the requirement that face coverings be worn in district buildings and at district events. The board recommends that students and staff continue to wear masks for the duration of the pandemic emergency, but they are no longer mandatory.
“All other safety and public health protocols pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic shall remain in place. The board reserves the right to re-evaluate and amend this policy if conditions warrant further change. Masks will be required to be worn on buses.”
The board also approved a COVID-19 emergency hearing process.