Masks in Sheldon

A sign outside the Sheldon Community Services Center telling those who enter they must have a mask.

SHELDON—It’s gone from a recommendation to a mandate.

Sheldon city workers are wearing masks most of the time, city manager Sam Kooiker said. After Gov. Kim Reynolds announced new guidelines on Monday, Nov. 16, the city required all 32 full-time employees as well as seasonal and part-time workers to mask up.

Kooiker said there has been no resistance from city employees.

“People are understanding,” he said. “A lot of people are already wearing it.”

There are some exceptions, Kooiker said. If a worker is alone in a vehicle or working outside, they may take off a mask.

When he is alone in his office, Kooiker removes his mask as well.

“But when someone walks in the office, or I am walking down the hallway, I’ll put it on,” he said.

Kooiker, 46, has his own health concerns, but he said that does not mean he is more likely to acquire the coronavirus.

“Some people with cerebral palsy do have respiratory and other problems, etc.,” he said. “Having cerebral palsy doesn’t necessarily mean I am at higher risk, because I am in good health and I do not have any associated conditions’ After my sister’s passing from cancer in 2007, I also have a physical and cancer screening each year.”

He does wear a mask in most situations.

“I didn’t start wearing a mask until a month ago or so, when the governor’s guidance came out that if a co-worker came down with COVID you wouldn’t have to quarantine if you were wearing a mask,” Kooiker said. “I am too busy to quarantine, so I decided to start wearing one. And with the rise in infections, that has turned out to be a good call.”

He said no city employees have gotten the virus, although there have been some false alarms. But he said everyone knows a person who had COVID-19, and in some cases, died from it.

Kooiker recently attended the funeral of a person who died from the virus.

“COVID has touched everyone in some way,” he said.

When people come into the Sheldon Community Services Center, the Crossroads Pavilion event center or other city facilities, they are asked to wear masks. Hand sanitizer is available, and envelopes are available at the city office for people to use when making payments.

Cleaning is a regular occurrence. The Sheldon Community Services Center carpets have not been deep-cleaned since 1997, but a contractor provided that service in early November.

The city offices were locked earlier this year but were reopened. Kooiker said there is no plan to lock the doors again, especially with winter arriving.

Pavilion general manager Tricia Meendering said people are recommended to wear masks at the event center. A table at the door provides hand sanitizer and masks.

She said there has been no resistance to wearing face coverings. A Veterans Day ceremony, held on Nov. 12, provided an excellent example.

“We said masks are required — and everybody wore them,” she said. “No kickback, feedback.”

The event center had a successful summer, Meendering said, but as COVID-19 numbers have risen, there has been an impact.

“We do feel the crunch, reschedules and cancellations,” she said.

But Meendering said she understands why people are calling off events. She just looks to better days ahead in 2021.

“There will be light at the end of the tunnel,” Meendering said.