Mitchell School Board approves mask requirement

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 6:47 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Mitchell School District is making masks mandatory in schools this upcoming fall.

This decision comes after a 5-0 vote from the Mitchell School Board on Monday.

The Coronavirus sent students in the Mitchell School District home early last spring to learn online, and Mitchell Superintendent Dr. Joseph Graves, says it’s important to bring them back this fall.

Graves said, “We’ve had a lot of negative effects; we can see it on our students because they were not able to go to school physically the 4th quarter of the 2019-20 school year.”

Graves says that the district is willing to do whatever possible to get students back into classrooms.

“We want to do everything we can possible to get them into schools here in the 1st quarter, and mandatory masking was probably a great way to do that to give us the best shot at staying in school once we get in,” Graves added.

Besides masks, other sanitizing measures will take place, such as keeping students together, apart.

Graves said, “We are going to be doing some cohorting in elementary schools, which basically means taking a group of students and then keeping them together in a classroom for much of the day as much as we possibly can.”

Sonja VanErdewyk is part of the group ‘Mitchell Kernel Parents Against Mandatory Masks’ and says the decision to wear, or not to wear a mask should be up to parents and their kids, not government officials.

VanErdewyk said, “In an environment like the public school system or any school system for that matter, if they’ve required or mandated something to happen and the choice is made opposite of that requirement, then justification for the choice becomes a necessity and the children should never be put on the spot like that.”

VanErdewyk mentions the concern with the intake of carbon dioxide due to wearing masks and other health reasons.

As of now, students and parents in Mitchell should expect to wear a mask to school come August 19th, and Graves says now is a good time to start preparing.

“I think they should start talking to their children about that, maybe even introduce them a mask. Try to find a mask that is going to fit well for their student and their size,” said Graves.

The mandating of masks is set to be until the pandemic is deemed over, or Graves says until there is a vaccine, but with the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, there is no set date.

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