District 196 COVID Mask Mandate Revoked


Abiha Kashif, News Writer

On Tuesday, March 1 The District 196 School Board met at Dakota Ridge Middle School to talk about the ongoing debate regarding the mask requirements in schools. Along with the school board officials, parents and teachers of the district were invited to share their stance on whether masks should be required on school property. 

District Superintendent Mary Kreger started the meeting by outlining the one true body to keep in mind as the discussions of the next two hours unfolded – the children in the district itself.

Before opening the floor for public comment, the newly released CDC guidelines were read aloud for audience perusal. Updates included moving masking from required to encouraged as cases fell below a certain threshold. These guidelines were then compared to District 196 COVID numbers, showing that the district is in fact within safe parameters to cease required masking.

The beginning of the meeting unfolded with a set of speakers, agreeing on one key thing regardless of their stance on the necessity of a mask mandate – currently, not enough is being done. Parents proposed renewed standards surrounding COVID-19 regulations, such as a minimum quarantine period of 10 days instead of 5, implementing contract tracing, and other measures that would make school safer and ensure transparency.

Others weren’t as in agreement. Various individuals opposing masks proposed differing reasons why: effects of wearing a mask on students’ mental health, potential environmental factors from mask disposal, and the belief of many that masks simply aren’t effective. One individual went far enough to ask members of the board to resign due to a perceived “failure of upholding the truth”. The event itself became increasingly heated on many occasions, most notable of which being a woman being gaveled down for several minutes after refusing to give up the podium after her two-minute slot ended. 

All in all, those in favor of the mask mandate put forward one clear fact: whether or not mask mandates continue, more action must be taken. The school district has not yet replicated accommodations made by other districts who have lifted the mandate, like rapid PCR testing provided in schools. Until these measures are implemented, the danger of going maskless in schools will not be appropriately mitigated. 

As the meeting drew to a close, the vote began. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of lifting the mandate. As of tomorrow, March 2, 2022, masks will no longer be required in District 196 schools. The effects on student health remain to be seen.