When the school year begins next month, masks will be mandatory for all people on Mitchell School District property. The district’s policy is that masks will be mandatory until the end of the pandemic. It’s the parent’s responsibility to give their child a mask, but if the student forgets, the school will have a mask for them.
There are some exceptions to the mandate.
“The protocol now is that unless they are in a category where they have an exception, such as an underlying health condition, that something like that, or of course they wouldn’t have to wear a mask while they’re having lunch, something like that,” superintendent Joseph Graves said. “But other than those times, they are required, and so they would not be able to come to school physically, if they were not willing to wear a mask, and in that case they would then attend school live on the e-learning format.”
“Everyone wants students back in school, and they want them to be able to remain in school, and they want them to be able to be healthy during that time that they’re in school,” school board President Deb Olson said.
Graves says if a family doesn’t want to send their child to school because of COVID-19 concerns, the e-learning option will be available. He says masks in school don’t make for an easy situation.
“‘Cause a lot of people don’t like the aspect of having to wear a mask,” Graves said. “They’re uncomfortable, they’re hot, some children really struggle with them.”
However, both he and Olson cite the science.
“On the other hand, they do provide a much-enhanced health situation, and they provide the ability to inhibit the transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” Graves said. “And that is according to our medical community. Our medical community came out very strongly in support of required masking. They put out letters, they signed those letters, they provided us documentation, and they attended the school board meeting and testified.”
“I think it was a very difficult decision for all of the board members, because there are such strong feelings both ways,” Olson said. “Speaking personally, the thing that swayed my vote the most was a letter that we received from, and signed, by 16 of the physicians in the Mitchell School District who all were in favor of masks and gave us scientific research.”