MASON CITY — The Mason City School Board on Monday night decided to stay with the current hybrid mask policy implemented by the board last month. The policy mandates mask usage inside a school building when the illness rate inside that building reaches seven percent or more, with the requirement being lifted once the illness rate drops below five percent.

Superintendent Dave Versteeg says staff reports that the mask policy has been working well up to this point.  “The mask on-mask off on a potentially daily basis, I’ve not gotten any reports from staff or principals that it has been an undue hardship on people. All of them have put out announcements and then put up a sign in their door, and most students bring a mask as they bring normal school supplies. Those that don’t, masks are provided for them.”

Versteeg says several buildings over the last week had several consecutive days where masks were being used. He says there’s not been much push-back against the current mask policy but a lot of questions have been raised.  “The awareness has been good. We haven’t had a lot of arguments about mask wearing by people when they know that it’s for a particular set of circumstances that they are trying to do, so that’s been very positive. I don’t know what kind of stamina people would have for five days in a row or seven days in a row when they see the daily absence rates go down and still think they are still supposed to be wearing a mask. I think that would be some management issues for building principals to keep everybody hopeful and pointed in the right direction about that.”

School Board president Lorrie Lala spoke after the board failed to make a motion to change the mask policy.   “We are going to keep things the way they are, at this point not change anything despite immunizations because you still have a chance of spreading the virus. We have to protect every student. That’s why we are leaving things the way they are.”

The board agreed to review the policy, which covers all illnesses reported in a building, not just COVID-19, as needed at future meetings.