R-III School Board adjusts mask mandate

Now easier for schools to drop masks

Derrick Forsythe, Correspondent
Posted 10/1/21

Students in at least two Warren County R-III campus locations may have the option to remove their masks as early as next week.

School board members voted during their work session on Sept. 23 to …

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R-III School Board adjusts mask mandate

Now easier for schools to drop masks

Posted

Students in at least two Warren County R-III campus locations may have the option to remove their masks as early as next week.

School board members voted during their work session on Sept. 23 to update guidelines concerning the district’s mask mandate. The criteria allows a building to lift its mandate if it has remained below a 1-percent COVID-19 positive rate for two consecutive weeks.

This would mean that fewer than 1-percent of the student population has been absent due to testing positive for the virus. Superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith said state regulations pushed the board to revisit its masking rule early.

“We have to meet and make a decision within 30 days according to the new state law,” said Klinginsmith. “Our next board meeting would have been outside that window.”

He said both Black Hawk Middle School and Rebecca Boone Elementary have seen a significant decrease in COVID cases since the initial spike earlier in the school year.

“We’re hoping this week we will see the same drop at the other buildings,” said Klinginsmith.

Black Hawk Middle School dropped below the 1-percent mark with four students testing positive on Sept. 23. If the school remains below that threshold, students could see the mask mandate lifted as early as Oct. 5, according to Klinginsmith.

Rebecca Boone Elementary had dropped below the 1-percent mark on Sept. 21, before immediately cresting the mark again the next day. It also finished the week with four positive cases.
While Daniel Boone Elementary, Warrior Ridge Elementary and the high school have all experienced a decline in cases over the past week, each remains above the 1-percent mark.

The only building that has consistently stayed below 1 percent is the Alpha Academy, which had zero cases throughout last week. Students there are adhering to the mask mandate, though, as an extension of the high school.

“You can make the case that masks have stopped the spread of the virus or that it has just moved through the building and out,” said Klinginsmith. “That is debatable. One thing we can definitely say is the masks have kept more healthy kids in school.”

In the case that a building is able to lift its mandate but later surpasses the 1-percent threshold again, the mask mandate would be immediately reinstated.

As of Sept. 24, the district had 38 students absent due to testing positive, with another 135 out from close contact. All told, R-III has had 1,124 students quarantined and 185 positive cases.

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