URBANDALE, Iowa — The debate surrounding masks in Iowa schools is heating up once again, and the Urbandale School Board has now defined which side of the issue it stands on.
The board voted four to three in favor of a mask mandate for Urbandale students and staff Wednesday night. The meeting drew a sizable crowd to Urbandale High School’s performing arts center, which resulted in more than two hours of public comments.
Board members heard passionate statements from both sides of the debate.
“When the kids leave school, they go to activities and practices and masks are off,” said Seth Nailor in opposition of a mask mandate. “They are going to friends’ houses and masks are off. All of us here, when we go around town and do our business, our masks are off. Why the hypocrisy?”
“Let’s not forget why we’re here,” said Jessica Hensley in favor of the mask mandate. “What we’re taking about and what’s really at the heart of the discussion. This is not about control, this is about selflessness.”
Tempers flared among the majority anti-mask mandate crowd during portions of the meeting. One person angrily stormed out of the performing arts center an hour into the meeting, and school board president Katharine Howsare threatened multiple times to end public comment prematurely due to an overly enthusiastic audience.
“To all of you, you are called to listen, and please do that respectfully,” Howsare told the crowd.
Now that the school board has voted in favor of mandatory masks, Howsare hopes parents can remember they are all part of the same district.
“If things go well, this plague will end as we know it, but some of the broken relationships that have happened will not,” Howsare said. There is an end in sight, and most of you have discussed that tonight.”
According to Urbandale Schools’ COVID-19 dashboard, Urbandale High School currently has eight positive COVID-19 cases. Six other schools within Urbandale are reporting one to five positive cases apiece.