USD 259 Mask Mandate Lifted

Gia Hernandez, Head Editor

Masks will now be optional in USD 259 buildings starting March 10. 

During a special meeting on Feb. 22, the board went over the pros and cons of the mask mandate. The special meeting was called by the three newest members of the board, Kathy Bond, Diane Albert and Hazel Stalber with the intention to lift the mandate immediately, but their motion to do so failed 3-4.

Ultimately it was decided to lift it after spring break, with the four incumbent board members voting yes and the three new ones voting no.

“The reasoning for why March 10 is because we have a lot of people, as I reference in my comments, we have a divided group. Some believe masks should go away yesterday. Some think we should keep them on until the end of the school year,” Logan said. “We need to give both sides the opportunity to breathe deeply, get to spring … with the data going down, I feel comfortable removing them at spring break.”

There are mixed reactions to the lifting of the mandate among students, teachers and even some members of the board.

“It’s unfortunate that we are delaying that date. I’m grateful that we have an end date to it. We’ve never had an end date to this. We’ve never had an off ramp. So I am grateful that we have an end date, but I’m disappointed that ‘recommended’ is still gonna be a part of that, because (some people) have used the mask to try to bully and shame other people into submission,” Albert said

While some are relieved the mandate will come to an end, others are happy they have good news regarding COVID-19 numbers.

“With the board motion allowing us to confirm that those numbers are going to continue to go down, I feel very comfortable with giving our community, our teachers and our parents this upfront information,” board member Julie Hendrick said.

There are also many students who are frustrated and believe the board has more important things to worry about. 

“Rather than focusing on mental health, like we had two kids from my English class alone die by suicide, and just, we’re tired. We’re exhausted as long as we’re moving past this, I feel like it’s a good thing. However, I’m not happy that they overturned the mandate, but at this point, it’s like what can we do? We fought so much but they refused to listen to us,” Andrew Le (11) said. 

Spring break runs from March 11-18, and masks will be optional after students and staff come back. Masks will also be optional on school buses starting on the same date, due to the CDC’s revised guidelines.