Hastings School Board Will Act on Mask Mandate Monday Night

May 10, 2021, midnight ·

If the recommendation passes, masks would not be required the last the last week of school in Hastings but would still be recommended. Photo by Bill Kelly, NET News

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The Hastings Public School Board will consider loosening the school’s mask mandate after seniors graduate at a meeting Monday night following a recommendation from the school's superintendent.

“Our board is probably a lot like our community: There’s probably a lot of differing opinions," said Jeff Schneider, the superintendent, adding he isn’t sure what’s will happen on Monday night.

Originally, Schneider was going to recommend the school board to change the schools’ mask requirement to a just recommendation on May 24, which is the day after the school year ends for all students, he said. Members of the public had asked he and school board members why Hastings Public Schools still had a mandate, as some other local schools don't, or why the mandate couldn't be relaxed sooner.

Schneider said he wanted to guarantee graduating seniors didn’t have to miss an end-of-the-year activity like graduation or the state track meet if they had been exposed someone with COVID-19.

But new local directed health measures, released last Thursday by the South Heartland District Health Department, relaxed quarantine rules, stating students no longer had to isolate following a direct exposure to someone who's tested positive for COVID-19. With the risk of being quarantined no longer in the picture, Schneider could recommend the mandate be relaxed on May 17, which is the Monday after Hastings seniors will graduate.

“This is such a tough issue," Schneider said. "No matter what is decided, somebody’s not going to like it. It’s just COVID. I don’t know what else to say. It’s just how this pandemic has been.”

Even though the issue over when the requirement will become a recommendation isn’t solved, Schneider said it’s a good problem to have considering the prior circumstances.

“In August, we were concerned about the kids staying in school – being in able to hold in-person school," he said. So, the fact that here we are – at the end of the year – and this is our debate. If you would have told me that in August, I would have taken it.”

If Schneider's recommendation passes Monday night, masks would not be required the last the last week of school in Hastings – May 17 through May 20 – for all non-seniors but would still be recommended.