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FD schools to require masks for elementary students

Elementary school students in the Fort Dodge Community School District will once again be required to mask up in school starting on Monday.

The mask requirement will affect all preschool through fifth grade students, as well as staff and visitors at the following schools:

• Early Childhood Center

• Butler Elementary School

• Cooper Elementary School

• Duncombe Elementary School

• Feelhaver Elementary School

Families in the district were informed of the new mask requirement on Friday afternoon through communication from the district.

“Since COVID-19 came into our lives, the district has attempted to react in a manner that is both responsible to our community and consistent with health experts,” reads a letter signed by Superintendent Derrick Joel and School Board President Stu Cochrane.

The mandate only covers students up through fifth grade because the majority of students at Fort Dodge Middle School and Fort Dodge Senior High are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, while the younger elementary students are not at this time.

In May, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation prohibiting schools from mandating masks in schools and on school property. However, last week, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa granted a temporary restraining order, preventing the state from enforcing the legislation.

Masks will only be required during school hours, but will be encouraged for after-school activities and Dodger Academy. Following federal law, masks will continue to be required while traveling on a school bus for any reason.

FDCSD leadership doesn’t expect every family to agree with this decision, but asks that families cooperate.

“As a district, we are not pretending to be the experts,” the letter read. “Our goal is, and always has been, creating the best educational environment for our students, staff and community. Decisions will always be made with that goal in mind. Our decision-making must also reflect the healthcare community and of course, state and federal laws.”

Students who are eligible for a face mask exemption must complete a face mask exemption form and have it signed by the student’s health care provider or religious leader. The forms can be picked up and returned to the Central Office, 109 N. 25th St.

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