WAUKEE, Iowa — The Waukee Community School District is so far the only school district in the Des Moines metro to vote down mask mandates, but a parent within the school system hopes they reconsider.
Anna Phelps said her son, a fifth-grader at Waukee Elementary School, and her husband both tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.
“We’ve been in near-complete isolation for a year and a half. We only go out for groceries and medicine, and we’re masked when we do that,” said Phelps, who added she has an upper respiratory disease that may put her at elevated risk. “We kept our kids home from school last year because they had an online option. We’re now a month into the new school year, and now my son has COVID.”
The Waukee School Board voted against two separate mask mandates during its meeting on Thursday. Just one of the six present board members voted to require masks for students and staff in all grade levels, while the board ended in a 3-3 tie to only require masks for students too young for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’m concerned this is not going to end, and we’re going to have a yo-yo effect,” board member Wendy Liskey said prior to the vote. “As a kindergartner, we’re telling them to mask, but if everything gets overturned, we’re telling them not to mask.”
Phelps was outside of the meeting holding a sign in support of a mask mandate. She said she sends her son to school with a mask every day, but because they are not required, she worries he may have it off for extended periods of time.
“You rely on them to remember, and there are a few times my son has forgotten his mask when school starts or when he comes in from recess,” Phelps said.
Phelps said she e-mailed all of the parents in her son’s class to inform them of his diagnosis. Both her son and her husband are now in isolation at their home.
“I usually hug and kiss my kids every night before bed, and I’m not doing that with my son or my husband right now,” Phelps said. “COVID is very real.”