New Mask Mandate

Alexis Dorsett, JP student writer

North Polk Board of Education voted in favor of the use of two-ply face masks while at schools and on district buses rather than using gaiters and facial shields.

On Tuesday, Sept. 29 the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Governor’s Office announced changes to quarantine recommendations based on mask use by individuals exposed to a positive COVID-19 case. This choice led to the North Polk Board of Education to highly encourage the use of two-ply face masks beginning Monday, Oct. 5 which then requires less students to quarantine for 14 days if a student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19.

Later that week on Oct. 8, the North Polk Board of Education had a meeting discussing mask rules. They voted in favor to make two-ply masks mandatory based on recommendations from the Iowa Department of Public Health, Polk County Health Department, and the Iowa Department of Education. The North Polk Board of Education announced to students, teachers, and parents on Friday, Oct. 9 that the new mask mandate will begin on Monday, Oct. 12.

Math teacher, Chris Kollbaum was not shocked about the new mask mandate. Kollbaum said “it kind of annoyed me at first, but then I was fine with it” because he previously wore gaiters to school everyday rather than a two-ply face mask, but he stated “it’s probably more comfortable to wear the mask.” He mentioned that it does not impact his teaching and that his students are able to understand him clearly. So the new mask mandate did not impact his life negatively in any way.

Study Hall teacher Kate Rutledge disagrees and thinks the new mask mandate impacts her life on a daily basis in a negative way because her chin strap plastic shield allowed her makeup to be seen while lasting longer and was more comfortable for her to wear. Rutledge states “masks saves lives” and that the new mask mandate was a reasonable decision to make. Although she “did like the plastic one better because it’s more of a hindrance to me, I’m sure it’s better for everyone else to have this [medical face mask] on.”

Junior Cale Engebretson also had to make a change to his daily life because used to wear the plastic face shields to school on a daily basis before the new mask mandate was issued. He mentioned “the only time I really notice it is when I go to get a drink of water” and that he doesn’t think the new mask mandate makes a big difference on his daily life because wearing a two-ply face mask is not a bother.

On the other hand, senior Chance Bockenstedt thought the new mask mandate was unreasonable because “I think they all don’t work and that we should all be able to wear what we want.” Bockenstedt wore gaiters to school everyday and finds the new requirement of wearing a two-ply face mask to school every day has been the same besides having to lift in Benjamin Zizis’s Athletic Weights class.

Although there has been a mixture of opinions on the new mask mandate, those who are at a high risk for COVID-19 agree with the new mandate. The new mask mandate made sophomore Caelynn Taylor feel safer at school because she felt as though gaiters and face shields “did not do as much as a mask would.” Jo Triggs, social studies teacher, said “I am all for the new rule. I dont think kids should be able to wear the gaiters and face shields.”