HOPKINS, Mo. — Following Gov. Mike Parson’s announcement of modifications to Missouri’s K-12 school reopening and operating guidance, the North Nodaway Board of Education approved a mask mandate at a special meeting Tuesday night in the high school cafeteria.
In what appeared to be one of the more socially distanced board meetings of the year, board members spaced out around tables in the high school cafeteria and approved a mask mandate for the district.
According to High School Principal Roger Johnson, 30 elementary students are currently quarantined and 27 students in sixth through 12th grade are currently out of school.
“That number’s only growing,” said Superintendent Chris Turpin, who noted that the number of students actually testing positive is staying relatively consistent with around one per grade level.
“A lot of our problem here at North Nodaway is our teachers testing positive,” he said. “We are starting to see second quarantines for students. … we’re not even through the first half of the school year.”
Moving forward the state guidance will no longer require students or staff to be considered a close contact or to quarantine as long as they don’t show symptoms and all parties involved in the exposure were properly wearing masks.
Johnson told board members that 18 of the 26 students on quarantine could still be in school if the mask mandate had been in effect.
Board member Jerime Bix asked if those students could return to school after the board approved the mandate.
Turpin said no they could not, but that any student appropriately wearing a mask over the weekend, when contact occurred, will not be asked to quarantine. Johnson noted there might be a few more students from a contact event.
“I don’t think it will get any better,” Turpin said.
Board member Timothy Blackford asked when the mandate would end because vaccines could be coming.
Turpin said it likely will continue being difficult for the next four months.
“The bottom line is we’re trying to protect kids,” he said.
Blackford suggested adding an end date and to revisit it.
Board member Kane Oberhauser moved to accept the mask mandate that will require face coverings to be worn at all times by staff and students pre-K through 12th grade through Jan. 31. Face coverings may be temporarily removed during recess, lunch or when instructed by faculty or administration.
Seconded by Brown, the board unanimously approved the mandate with the intention to revisit the need for it at the Jan. 20 board meeting.
“I really do think that this will keep our kids in school,” Turpin said.