Students in Pre-K-12, staff, and visitors will be required to wear masks indoors in the St. Joseph School District beginning August 23, 2021, the first day of school for the district, regardless of vaccination status. Masks will not be required outdoors.
Following presentations and discussion, the St. Joseph Board of Education voted 5 to 1 with one abstention on the policy in a Special Meeting on Monday, Aug. 9.
“We listened to our constituents – students, parents and staff and data from the CDC and our local health care professionals,” said Tami Pasley, Board President. “The majority of staff, parents, and students were in favor of a mask mandate at the start of school.”
Anyone entering SJSD buildings will be required to wear a mask. Masks will also be required on school buses, which is part of the CDC guidance that face coverings are required when using public transportation.
The district will also maintain social distancing of three feet in classrooms, assigned seating on school buses, frequent cleaning and sanitizing of high-touch areas, and handwashing/hand sanitizer will be strongly encouraged.
“Our decision is based on data and information,” said Doug Van Zyl, Superintendent. “The safety and well-being of our students and staff are paramount. We will continue to do everything in our control to create a learning environment in our buildings where our students and staff feel safe. Each district must look at the data and choose what is best for their community.”
Masks were optional for summer programs in the St. Joseph School District, but based on data and the number of cases increasing in the community, the Board chose to start the school year with a mask mandate.
Sick children and staff members who show COVID-19 symptoms should stay home and not report to school or work.
Parents who are interested in enrolling their children in the district’s Virtual Academy will have until August 27th to make that decision.
The St. Joseph Board of Education will continue to assess data and revisit the mandatory mask policy at its monthly Board of Education meetings.