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Council Bluffs students head to class with masks on

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 12:02 PM CDT
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - As students in Council Bluffs headed to class Wednesday — wearing their masks following a mandate handed down by the district — parents and guardians dropping them off had a range of opinions.

For Cody Rees’ family, the change isn’t a hard one.

“I think it’s a little safer, it keeps them all from getting sick I suppose. Don’t want none of that,” Rees said.

Connie Harris spent her morning dropping off a few of her grandchildren. She said she thinks — regardless of COVID-19 — masks in school keep them safer.

“I think this is a good idea just simply because, it’s not just the COVID thing, it slows the spread of flu and other viruses that go around, so I’m all for it,” Harris said.

Her grandchildren don’t seem to mind the new classroom accessory either.

“They’re fine, they’re resilient,” Harris said. ”They just do what, you know, whatever they need to do, and they don’t complain.”

But not everyone shared that same opinion.

Michelle Plak dropped off her 4- and 7-year-old grandchildren. She said she doesn’t believe schools should tell parents what their kids should do and that because of the mask mandate, Plak’s daughter is looking at other schools.

“My daughter, the mom of Adrianna, is not happy and is trying to find someplace to pull Adi out of school. And go where they don’t have masks,” Plak said.

The drop-off Wednesday was calm, a stark difference from Tuesday night’s board meeting. But there was a moment of tension as the principal of Rue Elementary was confronted by two moms who didn’t want their kids wearing masks in school.

Both decided to keep them home Wednesday.

“A lot of people just think that it’s gonna go away, just wear a mask or get the vaccine, it’s gonna go away,” said Chelsea Cruz-Wright, one of the mothers. “Well, I’m sorry but, it’s here to stay and we just need to live our life.”

According to a district official, there is no timeline for how long the mask mandate will last.

In an emailed statement, the Council Bluffs Community School superintendent said the district will continue to stay in touch with Pottawattamie County Health Department and adjust protocols accordingly.

“We were so proud of our students today as they arrived at school wearing their masks,” Dr. Vicky Murillo said. “As we get used to wearing masks again, students are being given mask breaks throughout the day...”

Read Dr. Murillo’s full statement

“We were so proud of our students today as they arrived at school wearing their masks. As we get used to wearing masks again, students are being given mask breaks throughout the day, including while eating breakfast and lunch, and during physical activity such as recess and physical education class, and during passing periods at the middle and high school levels.

Adults will also model appropriate mask wearing and remind students to wear their masks appropriately. If they are unable to wear a mask, we will provide the opportunity for them to physically distance themselves from others. Parents do have the option to apply for a medical or religious exemption if appropriate.

We understand the varying opinions, and are working with individuals who have specific concerns.

As a school district, we have the responsibility to make decisions based on state and federal law and are doing so with the implementation of this change in expectations based on the September 13 order.”

Dr. Vicky Murillo, superintendent of Council Bluffs Community Schools

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