Waukee School Board votes down mask mandate within the district

Coronavirus Impacting Iowa

WAUKEE, Iowa — A federal judge issued an injunction to Iowa’s ban on school mask mandates, but the Waukee Community School District will not change its procedure.

The Waukee school board voted four to two to keep the school district’s return-to-learn plan the same.

“We will be judged on how we care for our kids,” said Waukee school board president Lori Lyon.

Prior to that vote, board members considered only requiring masks for students in the sixth grade and below, since they are too young to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, that motion ended in a three to three tie among the board.

A tie was possible because board member Mary Scheve was absent.

“A tie demonstrates the complexity of this issue,” said Waukee School Superintendent Brad Buck. “I’ve read hundreds of e-mails from our families in the last week or so.”

Only one school board member among the six, Alex Smith, voted in favor of a mask mandate for all grades.

Dozens of families attended the meeting, even though there was no opportunity for public comment before the vote. However, people were vocal about their side of the issue through signs.

“I have a respiratory disability, so if they bring something home, it’s a risk to our family,” said Anna Phelps, who showed up in support of a mask mandate.

“Let them wear masks. I don’t care how many masks they wear,” said a man who identified himself as Steve, a Waukee resident who handed out flyers encouraging parents to un-enroll children from the school district if a mask mandate was approved. “They can wear them on their feet if they want to. Leave the rest of us alone. Let us choose.”

Additionally, several loud arguments about masks happened among community members outside of the board room before the meeting started.

While Waukee has made their decision, Buck anticipates the battle over masks is not over.

“We received e-mails on both sides,” Buck said. “Some said, ‘If you choose masks, we will sue the district.’ Others said, ‘If you don’t choose masks, we will sue the district.”

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