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Three weeks before the opening of school in Mount Ayr, the district’s Return to Learn plan has added a significant change to the beginning of the school year: students and staff will now be required wear face masks where social distancing is not possible.
According to Mount Ayr superintendent Jason Shaffer, the change comes as the result of revised recommendations from the Center for Disease Control.
The official notice from the school district reads:
“Safety is our number one priority at MACS. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have had to adjust many plans for opening school this year. The CDC and IDPH have recommended masks be worn when school resumes with face to face instruction. We are asking parents to acquire washable cloth masks for their students as we will be following this recommendation as part of our Return to Learn Plan. Five/5 Cloth masks would be ideal, one for each day and then washing them to re-use the following week. We wanted to make this adjustment right away so you could address this with your school supplies and perhaps find some ‘trendy’ styles before they are all gone. We will have extra masks at school, should your student need one. Those students or staff with medical exemptions will not be required to wear masks. We will be starting school face to face while exercising physical distancing within the buildings. We will have more guidance coming out on specific pieces of our plan soon…”
Shaffer said the district wanted to give parents ample time to acquire face masks for their students. He stressed, however, rules for the wearing of masks will be different in different environments.
“It’s not 24-7,” he said, explaining the masks will not be required in any location where social distancing of six feet or more can be maintained, such as in physical education classes and perhaps the high school commons area.
Still, he added, the situation is fluid with guidelines and mandates changing on a regular basis.
Shaffer said he and his lead team are constantly monitoring the CDC and Iowa Department of Public Health websites for the latest recommendations.
The team is developing its own website devoted to COVID guidelines specific to the Mount Ayr schools. When completed, the site will provide parents and students the latest information explaining various mitigation efforts and guidelines in place for district students, staff, and patrons.
In the meantime, parents may review the CDC recommendations at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/cloth-face-cover.html.