Superintendent: North Scott schools will continue to make masks optional

Local News

Parents protest a new mask mandate on Wednesday, Sept. 22, outside the Muscatine school board’s office.

North Scott Community School District Superintendent Joe Stutting released the following statement Monday about masks for the district:

“North Scott Community School District will continue to make masks optional. I have not made this decision in isolation. I have consulted with our school board, administration, neighboring districts, the Department of Education, and the Scott County Health Department. I have also received and read numerous emails from community members. 

“I have made this decision for a number of reasons: 

  • Our current district data on the number of cases and absentee rate is lower now than it was last year at this time. 
  • Our counterparts in the Quad Cities on the Illinois side are dealing with about the same number of cases we are with a mask mandate. 
  • I do not see a majority of people wearing masks outside of the school day throughout the community.  

“The current status of the Iowa law still is involved in court proceedings. I am not in favor of going back and forth depending on the outcome of court cases or judicial decisions. I am taking into consideration that all families knew masks would be optional in our district when they registered for school. In addition, all families had a choice for online education. Another point of consideration in this decision is the mask waiver practice from last year. If we were to institute a mask mandate now, I believe the mask waiver option would result in a similar percentage of students wearing and not wearing masks that we currently have without a mandate. I understand this decision will be supported by some and be a disappointment to others.

“With that being said, the district will continue to watch our data to determine if other measures need to be taken in the future. If we have a cluster breakout in a classroom or building we would consider putting a temporary mask mandate in place for that specific area along with other possible options for those students and families. We are currently working on the details of what this would look like.

“At this time, if families would like to go online with Edgenuity, we would allow that to take place. Please contact your building principal if you’d like to go online.

“I ask all of you to please model respect and civility when you have a discussion in person or online about this decision or any other controversial issues. Remember our children are watching and learning from our behaviors.”

Following a federal judge’s ruling that halted enforcement of the state’s ban on mandating masks in schools, at least 10 districts in Iowa have issued partial or universal mask requirements.

The West Des Moines and Davenport school boards voted to require all students, staff and visitors to wear masks. The Linn-Marr district approved a mask mandate for preK-6, but not upper grades. Those districts joined Des MoinesCedar RapidsCouncil BluffsIowa City and West Burlington public schools.

A Bettendorf school board member made a motion last week to pass a mask mandate. However, he did not receive a second vote from a single one of his fellow board members, ultimately sinking the proposed mask mandate for Bettendorf students for now.

On Sept. 22, several parents publicly protested the mask mandate in Muscatine schools, which began on Monday, Sept. 20.

Earlier this month, enforcement of Iowa’s ban on mask mandates in schools was put on hold after a federal judge in Des Moines ruled that it creates an unfair risk for students with serious health conditions to attend class in-person.

The decision means school districts across the state can now issue universal mask requirements, as the CDC recommends, as long as the temporary order is in place. Illinois law does mandate that all Illinois public schools require masks.

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