Muscatine school board votes to lift mask mandate for Pre-K through 6th grades

Masks will no longer be required for Pre-K through sixth grade students and staff starting Wednesday in the Muscatine Community School District. Face coverings will still be required on school buses, due to federal mandates.

Following the swearing in of new members Matt Conard, Lindsey Phillips, and Ken LaRue, the MCSD school board voted 5-2 to lift the mask requirements.

“The district will also be working with Trinity Muscatine Public Health to offer vaccination clinics for families choosing to vaccinate their children,” according to a post on the MCSD Facebook page.

Full text of Tuesday’s announcement from MCSD:

Dear Muskie PK-6 Students, Families, and Staff Members,

During the special school board meeting in September, we stated that we would re-examine the face-covering mandate once vaccines were available for children aged 5-11.

Monthly Illnesses related to COVID have dropped approximately 75% from September levels. Weekly absence rates related to COVID have fallen from 32% to about 11%. Current active COVID cases in the district for students are 6, 5 at the elementary level.

Staff absences for personal and family illnesses have dropped by approximately 30%. Vaccination rates in Muscatine County have improved with 65% now fully vaccinated, and 70% have had at least one dose.

That number will continue to climb with additional children getting vaccinated.

My original justification for a PK-6 mandate was access to a vaccine. That access exists now. Our data has improved, and given additional vaccinations and treatment options, we are in a significantly better position than we were in September.

Therefore, during last evening’s meeting, my recommendation to the school board was to remove the PK-6 face-covering mandate. The board then voted 5-2 to remove the face-covering mandate for PK-6 Students and Staff. This decision goes into effect tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17, 2021.

Families wanting their students to continue wearing face-coverings, please contact your student’s teacher(s) along with their building principal today. That ensures they are aware of your wishes. The district will also continue to encourage that all students and staff wear face-coverings. Especially our youngest students at the Muskie Early Learning Center since there is not a vaccine available for their age group as of now.

The district is working with Trinity Muscatine Public Health to offer a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for students aged 5-11 years old. This would be a decision made by each family. Details on that will be coming soon.

In the meanwhile, the district reminds families that vaccinations are available at all local pharmacies, at Public Health, along with via your child’s doctor.

In compliance with the President’s Executive Order on domestic transportation, students are required to wear a face-covering while on the school bus or while utilizing other MCSD District-provided transportation.

Our ultimate goal is to keep all students and staff safe, healthy, and in the classroom.

Thank you,
Clint Christopher, Superintendent