Sioux Center school board talks masking policy

Members of the Sioux Center School District Board of Education agreed to keep in place the district’s current COVID-19 policies, including rules on wearing masks and social distancing when possible.

SIOUX CENTER—The Sioux Center School District plans to keep in place the same COVID-19 precautions as it has throughout the school year, following news that Gov. Kim Reynolds has lifted the state’s mask wearing requirements earlier in the month.

With the end of the school year approaching and no solid date on when school staff could receive COVID-19 vaccinations, members of the Sioux Center School District Board of Education agreed during its Feb. 15 meeting that it was best to keep the current rules in place.

Students must wear masks in common spaces and when going from room to room, but when social distancing is possible, students are not required to wear masks.

By keeping this policy in place, district superintendent Gary McEldowney hopes the school doesn’t have a repeated spike of quarantines, as was more common throughout the first half of the school year.

“We’re hopeful that those times and numbers are in the rear view mirror. They’ve been much better lately,” McEldowney said. “But a lot of young people missed a lot of school because of quarantining, and that’s hard. It was hard to have them go home and some of them had to go through that multiple times. It was very frustrating for everyone.”

As he pointed out, how extracurricular activities handle such things as mask wearing and social distancing requirements and attendance regulations depends not only on the individual schools but also the state organizations that oversee that activity, such as the Iowa High School Music Association and the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

That explains why band, choir and sports sometimes have different rules in place, McEldowney said.

“State organizations have a huge impact on what we do. When we have the opportunity to have events or have people come in, we try to find ways within the scope of what we can control to try to get as many people to things and have things as normal as we can,” he said. “That’s been really challenging, but we’re going to keep trying.”