Indianola school administration building

Indianola school administration building

All teachers and students in grades 6 through 12 will be required to wear masks at school when social distancing isn't possible the Indianola Community School Board decided in a 4-3 vote Monday night.

Students in kindergarten through the fifth grades will be able to decide for themselves whether they want to wear a mask — although masking is encouraged.

According to the plan, required remote learning will be available for students who choose not to attend class in-person.

It took the board more than an hour to read through all of the letters submitted before the meeting and three hours to vote on the recommendations.

Superintendent Art Sathoff and board president Rob Keller took turns reading the letters, which shared a variety of thoughts and concerns.

In his letter, middle school teacher David Dubczak insisted, "we must find ways to serve as many students remotely as we legally can. If we don't people will die."

Others, like parent Amye Shivers, insisted students shouldn't have to wear masks at all to school.

"After talking with my kids, and hearing from some of their friends, not one of them feels like anything positive will come from wearing a mask," Shivers wrote. "Every one of them was either stressed due to anxiety or thought the whole idea was stupid."

Shivers expressed concerns about students having anxiety attacks while wearing their masks and not being able to breathe.

The district gathered feedback from 2,142 people in a two-day period. That information was used to create graphics that show how comfortable teachers are in different scenarios involving the wearing of masks and virtual learning options and how comfortable parents are sending their children to school.

Of the 2,142 people surveyed, 47.7 percent said they would send their kids back to school for shortened days five days per week, while 22.6 percent indicated they'd like to have their students learn remotely from home.

And 44 percent of 435 teachers polled indicated they'd prefer to wear a face covering while teaching.

The board previously decided schools will be opened five days per week, but school days will be shortened by 90 minutes each day.

Not all questions were answered Monday, required whether staff would be required to used paid time off if they test positive for COVID-19 or otherwise have to be quarantined.

Sathoff stressed the caveat to the plan is that "all aspects of this plan are subject to change at any moment." 

He said new guidance can come at any time and Governor Kim Reynolds is expected to give an updated set of recommendations Aug. 4, the day Indianola's year-round program is slated to return to the classroom.

School board member Caroline Langenwalter emphasized it is a "living, breathing plan" and board member Ken Bresnan reminded the group after the vote that "the Governor could have done something during our meeting. We don't know."

(3) comments

Bohlken1

Kudos to the school board for following the science and reopening the schools. It is well known that the pediatric flu is a greater threat to school children than COVID-19. The American Academy of Pediatrics "strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school,"

An article in Science noted, "Continued closures risk “scarring the life chances of a generation of young people,” according to an open letter published last month and signed by more than 1500 members of the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). Virtual education is often a pale shadow of the real thing and left many parents juggling jobs and childcare. Lower-income children who depend on school meals were going hungry. And there were hints that children were suffering increased abuse, now that school staff could no longer spot and report early signs of it. It was time, a growing chorus said, to bring children back to school."

The same article found that after reopening of schools in Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland and Austria "officials say they found no evidence of increased spread of the novel coronavirus after schools reopened. "

reneedal

Bohlken1

Would you please post a link to that specific research article? Thank you.

Bohlken1

The Science article is at: sciencemag.org/news/2020/07/school-openings-across-globe-suggest-ways-keep-coronavirus-bay-despite-outbreaks

The AAP Interim guidance is at: https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/06/26/schoolreopening062620

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