Dubuque School Board resumes discussion on mask mandate in local schools
DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Dubuque school board members met Monday night to resume discussions on whether to implement a school mask mandate. The board had decided not to implement one at a public input meeting on September 20.
Board members agreed it is unlikely they will be able to reach an agreement on if it is necessary to require students and staff to wear masks in school. Two weeks ago, the board seemed to be split on what the appropriate course of action was.
On Monday the board got a COVID-19 update from Superintendent Stan Rheingans. As of 3:20 p.m., the district was reporting 27 positive COVID-19 cases in students, which is ten more than what was reported at the September 20 meeting. Currently, four staff members are positive with the virus.
Tami Ryan, president of the school board, kept her same stance as two weeks ago, saying the data does not back up the need for a mandate.
“We keep talking about this sky is falling in the Dubuque Community School District when it is not, our numbers are staying the same,” she mentioned. “This illness is not going to go away, it is not severe to children. There are some exceptions for everything, but I am just tired of this.”
Superintendent Rheingans said the district currently has 17.5 percent of the cases it had last year so far this year with only being 16 percent of the way into the school year.
School board member Kate Parks, who has been constant on the need for a school mask mandate, argued that the board needed to take steps to make sure COVID-19 cases would not continue climbing. She also mentioned she had heard from students and parents who are concerned about the possibility of an outbreak in school.
Anderson Sainci, on the other hand, recognized the topic of masks in schools has become highly political and encouraged the other board members to keep the politics out of the conversation.
“I see what goes on nationally bubbling up into this school district, and it does feel like politics are starting to get here, and we can never forget why we ran and that is to do what is best for our students,” he emphasized. “And I still believe each and every one of us, we want to do that.”
The board is set to meet again next Monday, October 11, to continue discussions on the topic and potentially take action on the matter.
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