Northwest Iowa — In view of the new COVID-19 guidelines released by the Iowa Department of Public Health earlier this week, at least three area schools have opted to make masks mandatory for students and teachers in some or all of their classrooms.
The Sheldon Community School Board met in special session early Wednesday evening and took part in an online discussion with O’Brien County Public Health officials about the new protocols. Following that virtual meeting the school board voted to require masks be worn by all students and teachers in grades Kindergarten through 12th at any time when social distancing isn’t possible. The mask mandate for those on the district’s school buses and other vehicles, which had been in effect since the beginning of the school year, remains in force. Sheldon’s mask mandate will go into effect Monday morning, October 5th.
At a special meeting of the Central Lyon school board Wednesday afternoon, a mask mandate was approved in that school district, for students and teachers in 5th through 12th grade when a 6-foot social distance cannot be achieved. In addition, the board strongly urged, but did not require, students and staff in Preschool through 4th grade to wear masks when unable to social distance. Students at all grade levels will be required to wear a face mask when riding on a Central Lyon bus. Central Lyon’s mask mandate technically went into effect immediately, but a school official tells KIWA they’re giving the students Thursday and Friday to get used to the masks, with the mandate being fully implemented beginning Monday, October 5th.
The West Lyon school board voted unanimously, in a Wednesday evening special meeting, to mandate masks for students and staff in grades 7 through 12 effective immediately. West Lyon officials say they will continue to monitor positive cases at the elementary levels, and will continue to strongly encourage students and staff to wear masks at those levels.
The new guidelines from the IDPH are designed to keep more students and teachers in school while still protecting them from the COVID-19 virus. A Sheldon Community Schools official says the school wants to provide the best education possible which means staying in school.