Perry School Board unanimously approves mask mandate

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Hashing out the new face-mask policy Wednesday were, clockwise from left, Perry Elementary School Principal Ned Menke, Perry Middle School Associate Principal Quinn Pelz, PCSD Business Manager Kent Bultman, Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger, Perry School Board member Casey Baldwin, Perry School Board President Kyle Baxter, Perry School Board member Kenia Alarcon, Perry School Board Vice President Linda Andorf, Perry School Board member Jim Lutmer, Perry High School Associate Principal Brad Snowgren, Perry Middle School Principal Shaun Kruger and Perry Director of Teaching and Learning Kevin Vidergar. PCSD Superintendent Clark Wicks and Perry Activities Director Scott Pierce were also present.

The Perry School Board approved the district’s Return to Learn Plan for October at a special meeting Wednesday afternoon, voting unanimously to add the following language to the plan:

Students and staff will wear masks when social distancing cannot be maintained.

According to standard public health guidelines, social distancing is not maintained in school when an individual is within 6 feet of another person for at least 15 minutes.

The board also decided to make the face-mask requirement take effect district-wide Monday, Oct. 26. The 12-day transition period will give the district time to notify families of the new policy and draw up formal language to add to the Return to Learn Plan.

The board’s vote came after a vigorous 90-minute discussion, in which administrators from the three schools urged the board to adopt the mask rule. The administrators agreed that a mask requirement would greatly reduce the number of students forced into quarantine as close contacts whenever a positive case crops up.

Perry Middle School Associate Principal Quinton Pelz said that of the 32 students now in 14-day quarantine at the middle school, all but two — the students who tested positive — would still be attending classes if the mandatory-mask policy were in place.

The five-person school board was joined in its discussion by some eight administrators, with a dozen or more teachers and community members forming the audience.

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