JOHNSTON, Iowa — The school year begins for a few districts in the Des Moines metro Monday, including Johnston, Southeast Polk, and Boone.
Shelby Patterson recently moved her kids from the Johnston Community School District to the Dallas Grimes Center Community School District. Patterson said she’s happy masks won’t be required in the classroom this year.
“My kids are so excited that they don’t have to wear masks. They would come home and they would be all wet, they would have gross stuff inside of the mask. Come to find out that they were wearing those all day,” Patterson said. “I feel better about them having free and clear breathing.”
Patterson has three kids, all under the age of 12. She said she will not be sending her kids to school with masks and feels comfortable with the safety measures Dallas Center Grimes has put in place.
However, for some other parents, masks are one of the biggest concerns.
Tiara Mays has nine-year-old twins, one of which attends school in the Johnston Community School District.
In March, Johnston asked parents if they wanted to enroll their child in an online academy. Mays opted for in-person classes while COVID-19 cases were decreasing and masks were still required in schools.
Now that the governor has banned mask mandates in class, and COVID-19 cases are rising, Mays expressed that her worries are just as high as they were at the beginning of last year.
“I definitely understand that it’s necessary for kids for their interaction and social-emotional skills to develop and they need to be in person around their peers,” Mays said. “But I’m also very nervous because without them being mandated to wear a mask, they’re not vaccinated yet, I have a lot of concerns about the COVID mitigations.”
Jody Fox is the mother of a sophomore at Boone High School. Fox is currently battling cancer and had COVID-19 last year.
She said since school districts can’t require masks, she would like to see Boone do everything else in its power to protect families in the district. Those measures include conducting contact tracing, communicating when there are outbreaks, and requiring students and staff to quarantine if they have the virus or have been exposed.
Fox also hopes that parents also do their due diligence in keeping kids safe.
“I just hope that everybody’s truthful. I get it that it’s hard to not send a kid to school because parents have to work. I mean, that’s our society now. But if somebody is infected and knowingly going to school, that’s what I’m concerned about,” Fox said.