Washington schools debating mask requirements for fall

WASHINGTON — The Washington Schools are still unsure whether masks will be required the upcoming school year. Preliminary data from parents in the area shows 56 percent believe masks should be optional for both students and teachers.

With the Return to Learn deadline approaching, the Washington schools still have a big decision to make — if the students return to school, will masks or face shields be required?

The decision was discussed during the school board meeting Wednesday.

As of right now, unless there is a major breakout, school will be back in person come August. Washington schools Superintendent Willie Stone said the decision to either enforce mask usage or allow it to be optional will not occur until August.

The school is currently buying enough masks and face shields for every teacher. So far they have around 10,000 masks — big, medium and small for the children — but finding youth shields has been difficult.

“If we require anything it would be a shield,” Stone said.

After discussing it with public heath they decided it would be the best option especially for younger kids who may have difficulties keeping a mask on all day.

With the shields being reusable, students would be able to clean their shields and hang it up on their specific hook before leaving for the day.

Stone said even though the Iowa Department of Education discouraged K-12 schools from requiring face masks, the schools want to wait and see what happens in the future.

A survey has been sent to parents, staff and students. Even though the surveys do not close until July 13, Stone has compiled some of the data from the parent survey.

In relation to masks, 56 percent of responses thus far have said masks should be optional for both students and staff wile 32 percent said masks should be required for all.

Thus far, 53 percent of parents who have responded state children should go to school but they have concerns. The next highest response was go to school with 31 percent and not going to school having 17 percent of the votes.

Other precautions the school is working on is having hand sanitizer stations in every room and scattered throughout the hallways. A wash in/wash out policy will be in place for student leaving and entering classrooms.

Parents would be required to take the student temperature every morning, and if they do not have a thermometer, the school may provide one. For lunches, students may have meals delivered to the classroom.

Every school has foggers to clean the buildings and classrooms every night. High traffic areas will be hand cleaned every night.