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DeWitt Public Schools will require masks, but only when COVID transmission risks are significant

Posted at 7:30 AM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 07:30:06-04

DeWitt Public Schools announced its COVID safety plans for the upcoming school year Tuesday afternoon, and it's not what a lot of other districts are doing.

"So the plan is a full return," DeWitt Schools Superintendent Shanna Spickard said. "It's really important for us to have students in-person, full-time, in front of the teachers and the staff. That's where they belong."

DeWitt will require students and teachers to wear masks this school year, but only when the risk of contracting COVID is greatest.

DeWitt Superintendent Shanna Spickard
DeWitt Superintendent Shanna Spickard

"We have come up with what I consider a tiered plan, and in that tiered plan we'll take a look at the CDC transmission levels to see where we are and how we will respond," Spickard said.

Masks will be recommended but not required for students and staff when Clinton County has a low to moderate risk of transmission.

Masks will be required for students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade and the staff who work with them when Clinton County has a substantial risk of transmission.

When the risk is high, masks will be required for everyone.

DeWitt Public Schools Mask Policy 2021
DeWitt Public Schools Mask Policy 2021

"It does change day-by-day, and I'll be communicating out either Sunday night or Monday morning where our risk is," Spickard said.

Some parents in the DeWitt School District, like mother of six Abby Lorenzen, worry that these precautions aren't enough.

"In my opinion, they should definitely be doing more. I'm concerned with the news release saying that masks are only for the severe cases and not in the moderate or low group," Lorenzen said. "I'd want masks full-time, teachers either tested or vaccinated, and some sort of lunchroom precautions."

In fact, Lorenzen isn't planning to send her kids back to DeWitt schools unless more precautions are taken.

Abby Lorenzen, mother of six in DeWitt
Abby Lorenzen, mother of six in DeWitt

"As of right now, it'd probably be home-schooling," Lorenzen said. "But, also not ideal for the kids because I do think that they work best in a public school system setting."

There are no plans to test students or staff and vaccinations will not be required for teachers, though Spickard said a majority of the staff is already vaccinated. In addition, a third-party virtual option will be available for students who have a medical condition that prevents them from learning in person.

"I would wear an astronaut suit if I had to, to be able to have full face-to-face instruction," Spickard said. "We're not going to allow masks to get in the way of us having a great time and making connections with students this year."

DeWitt Public Schools' first day will be Aug. 30.

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Lauren Shields

Lauren Shields

8:25 PM, Aug 21, 2019

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Lauren Shields

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