FD schools to require masks
Wearing masks while in class will no longer be optional for students in the Fort Dodge Community School District starting next week.
The district’s Board of Education approved the new requirement for students to wear masks at all times when social distancing is not possible during Monday night’s school board meeting.
This recommendation from Superintendent Jesse Ulrich was a result of new guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Education regarding students who come in close contact with an individual with a positive COVID-19 case.
“The new guidance states that if the student who is positive has a mask on, then all students within six feet for a continual 15 minutes who also have a mask on do not have to quarantine,” Ulrich said.
Previously, students who came in contact with any individual with COVID-19 were required to quarantine for 15 days, regardless if both were wearing masks. This new policy will allow more students to stay in school, Ulrich said.
“The district’s goal is to have as many students attending class on a daily basis as possible,” he said. “We recognize how detrimental it can be for a student to have to quarantine for two weeks if they are exposed to COVID-19 at school.”
The new policy mandating mask use by students will take effect on Monday to give families time to prepare.
“Families who do not want their child to wear a mask at school will need to consider the learning-at-home option,” the superintendent said.
The district will consider medical exemptions if provided by the student’s doctor, but Ulrich said those will be rare. If a student does receive a medical exemption, they will be assigned a seat within the classroom that is away from other students to protect them and others from exposure.
Failures by students to comply with the mask mandate will be treated like a dress code violation and the student will be sent home until they comply with the policy.
The district will have masks available for students if families have trouble procuring masks.
Staff are not affected by this policy change, Ulrich said, because staff are allowed to wear face shields or other coverings so that students can see their full faces during class.