USD 257: Debating COVID steps

At Monday's meeting, school principals spoke against masks mandate as parents pressed for action. The board approved a new testing program that will quickly determine if a student is infected and whether they can remain in school or must quarantine.

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August 24, 2021 - 10:27 AM

Elementary school principals spoke about their experiences with last year’s mask mandate, and other COVID-19 protocols. From left, Lincoln Elementary School Principal Andy Gottlob, Jefferson’s Tiffany Koehn, and McKinley’s Angie Linn. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

While the needle hasn’t moved on a mask mandate — USD 257 still recommends face masks, but isn’t requiring them — the school board approved a new COVID-19 testing policy and sought to reassure a group of concerned parents about the safety protocols in place.

For the second time in two weeks, emotions ran high as board members met with about 20 parents. Most spoke in favor of requiring face masks and shared concerns about the number of students and staff already required to quarantine just four days into the school year.

As of Friday, which was the third day of the school year, the district had 34 students and one staff member in quarantine, with 10 positive cases. Most of those quarantines started before the school year began, administrators said.

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