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R-II Board Reverts To Just Recommending Masks

By MARK EVANS

mevans@stegenherald.com

Face masks and face shields will again become optional for students and staff at Ste. Genevieve R-II Schools.

The R-II Board of Education voted 6-1 in a special meeting last Thursday night to lift its temporary mask mandate. The revised face-covering mandate took effect this Monday and will be reviewed at the regular Oct. 19 board meeting.

The board also adopted modified quarantine guidance for students.

This time there were just three speakers who filled out comment cards and addressed the board. There had been 16 at a special meeting on Sept. 6, when the mandatory mask mandate was put back into effect and 12 during the regular Sept. 21 meeting.

Board members and Dr. Julie Flieg, superintendent, did express some thoughts on the topic, though.

Flieg said she and the county  health department had reached out to area schools who have tried alternative approaches, to see how those revised mandates were working out.

“It seems to be working well,” she said. “They do not have an increased number of cases in their community and they have very low numbers of positive cases in their school.”

Flieg also noted that the district cannot change the mandate for wearing masks on school buses. This comes from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and cannot be legally overridden.

She also touched on the amended quarantine policy.

“The student must continue to be asymptomatic and continue to monitor for symptoms during the quarantine period, if they attend school on this modified quarantine guidance,” she said. “The student must comply and wear a face mask. A face covering, a face shield, will not be sufficient in the guidance; it has to be a mask. They will have to wear that any time they are not socially distanced, anytime they are close to someone. We’re going to do our best to make sure that they stay socially distanced. If a student is unable or unwilling to wear a mask then he or she can stay home and quarantine at home. It is not required that they come to school.”

She also went over the modified quarantine policy, regarding Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) activities.

“If they’re in close contact, they can go to practice, but they’re not allowed to practice,” Flieg said. “They’re not allowed to be anywhere near the team. They can sit in the gym and watch them, but they cannot participate in a practice or a game.”