The Delaware City Schools Board of Education voted Monday to revise the district’s mask requirement.
Before school started last month, the board voted to implement a mask requirement for all staff and students to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to keep students from having to quarantine in the event of exposure. The requirement was tied to the Delaware Public Health District’s critical factors report.
During Monday’s meeting, Superintendent Heidi Kegley updated the board on the district’s COVID-19 numbers so far this school year.
“We appreciate everyone working together to ensure that our students are able to be in the classrooms learning every day, she said. “We also know the masks have kept many of our students from being excluded from school due to quarantine. We know this decision has kept our students in school learning. We do have a few quarantines for every positive case, but we know we’re not seeing large-scale quarantines as seen across the state.”
Kegley said that as of Friday, the district has had 34 total cases: nine at the elementary schools, seven at Dempsey Middle School, and 18 at Hayes High School. She added 181 students have been placed in quarantine: 103 at the elementary schools, 45 at the middle school, and 33 at Hayes. She estimated that an additional 95 to 135 elementary students and 525 to 875 middle and high school students would have been placed in quarantine if not for the mask requirement.
The district continues to work with families who have requested mask exemptions, Kegley said, but some families have changed their minds because having their child wear a mask at school keeps them from having to quarantine in case they are exposed.
“As a superintendent, it’s my responsibility to ensure that students are in school five days a week learning with their teachers,” Kegley said. “When the board first made the decision to require masks it was stated we would look at the critical factor report card each week. However, based on the information I shared with you tonight (and) based on our students and our staff, it’s my recommendation that we require masks inside buildings to ensure that we’re keeping the most students possible in our classrooms every day, learning with their teachers and out of quarantine.”
After hearing from Kegley, the board voted to amend the mask requirement and removed its connection to the Delaware Public Health District’s critical factors report card.
Student board member Katie Hejmanowski gave the student perspective on the mask requirement and said that while there has been some pushback from students, the majority are willing to wear masks to stay in school.
Additionally, the board approved several resignations, including Allison Welsh, an intervention specialist at Conger Elementary School; Alli Hall, an occupational therapist at Dempsey; Monique Francis, a cook-cashier for the district; Erik Link, a bus driver; Shelby Salyer, a bus driver; Elizabeth Turnbull, a School Aged Child Care (SACC) program assistant; Carly Woolwine, a SACC program assistant; and Tyler Wright, a bus driver.
The board approved the retirements of Monika Ray, the district’s assistant treasurer, and Manuella Mylander, a language arts teacher at Dempsey.
The board, which will meet next on Oct. 4, also approved the employment of Dr. Christopher Birr, a school psychologist at Dempsey and Hayes.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.