DELHI, Iowa — Maquoketa Valley Community School District joined fellow Delaware County districts Edgewood-Colesburg and West Delaware in continuing its mask requirement for students and staff through the completion of the 2020-21 academic year.

Maquoketa Valley Community School Board members recently voted unanimously to maintain the current mask policy after receiving a presentation from Maquoketa Valley Families for Freedom spokesman Luke Livingston.

Superintendent Dave Hoeger led the district’s response.

“I think it’s important for us to understand that we’re not on completely opposite sides of this topic. I think we share many of the same values,” Hoeger said. “I value giving parents and students choice in their education as much as possible. I’m sure you value the students’ safety while at school. The difference we have is how much emphasis is put on these different values.

“It’s my recommendation to the board that we continue to require students to wear masks while at school the remainder of the year. One of our primary responsibilities as a school board and a superintendent is to put policies and procedures in place that will allow our school to operate safely.

“COVID-19 has not gone away, and we need to do whatever we can to reduce the chance that students and staff get COVID and transmit it to each other, either at school or to family members or the community while at home. Following the direction we’re getting from local, state and federal health officials, we need to continue to enact good hygiene, social distance when possible and to wear masks. Our goal is to keep our schools open.”

Hoeger told the board and other meeting attendees that he recommends continuing with mask requirements through the end of the current year with re-evaluation this summer.

Board members spoke in favor of continuing mask requirements.

“I’m a sub bus driver, and I ask a lot of kids about wearing masks,” said Board Member Mike Feldman. “Not one of them has said they hate wearing the masks. I don’t want the seniors this year to miss out on graduation. I think it’s a good idea to wear the masks until the end of the year and then look at and see where everything is at.”

Board Member Chris Huber feels Maquoketa Valley has had a good year despite the pandemic.

“I feel we’ve been very successful in opening and keeping our schools open because we did mandate masks from the very beginning,” Huber said. “Masks provide the option of not having to quarantine the entire class. As a school board, we need to evaluate what is best for all of our students.

“I’ve been approached by parents worried about lifting the mask mandate. There are parents on both sides of this. I just feel if we lift the mask mandate now, we risk not being able to hold graduation, prom and other school activities.”

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