Johnston school board votes 4-3 to lift mask mandate for all students

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JOHNSTON, Iowa — The Johnston school board on Monday voted 4-3 to remove the district’s mask mandate for all students.

Starting Tuesday, masks are no longer required to be worn in Johnston schools except on buses.

Newly elected school board members Derek Tidball, Deb Davis and Clint Evans joined Alicia Clevenger in voting to remove the mask mandate.

The administration recommended lifting the mask mandate for grades 8-12 and extending the mandate for grades pre-K-7 through Dec. 23, 2021. However, Evans amended the recommendation to include all students immediately.

“If it’s a decision that’s right for some, then I believe it’s a decision that’s right for all,” Evans said.

Parents in attendance had mixed reactions, some felt the decision was reckless amid a new variant.

“I think it’s their responsibility to look out for the safety and the well being of all of our students, our faculty, and our administration in the Johnston school district,” parent Kaycee Schippers said, “and I don’t feel like they’re doing that.”

Others feel thankful that they as parents get the choice.

“They’re going to let us decide how to best protect our children, how to best take care of our children, and how to best make sure our children are ready to learn,” parent Michelle Veach said.

And some left with questions about what’s going to happen if COVID cases continue to rise.

“I want to know what they’re going to do at that point,” parent Ann Smith said. “What data are they going to be following? What metrics are they going to be following in order to make those decisions or are we just completely done with mitigation efforts?”

The district’s previous mask mandate was enacted on Sept. 23. It required all students, staff and visitors to wear masks indoors during instructional hours.

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