The pandemic is wearing on people’s nerves. Many parents are on their last nerve! The politics of the pandemic have drawn battle lines that no amount of science or ALL CAPS Facebook posts can change. It’s literally ripped apart families and friendships. Is there any common ground? Is there any compromise available? A glimmer of hope found in Tiffin, Iowa at Clear Creek Amana Community Schools.
As most everyone knows a judge issued a temporary restraining order against Iowa’s law that banned mask mandates. This opened the floodgates for school boards to jump at their chance to mask kids up once again despite the angry protest of parents across the state and the fact that the legal challenge is far from over and will likely reinstate the states no mask mandate. Urbandale, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Linn-Mar, Davenport, Ames, and more all implemented new mask mandates as fast as they could set up the meetings. Waukee and Benton and a few others voted against mask mandates, while Clear Creek Amana punted it down the road a couple weeks, until now.
On Wednesday evening, the school board for Clear Creek Amana met to make a final decision on what to do with masks in our classrooms.
Most any day of the week it would have been a slam dunk for the mask up side of the equation as the board does not hide it’s political leanings that don’t show CCA as any kind of far right conservative stronghold. Quite the opposite if you look at the comments of the board members.
Despite that, an amazing thing happened in Tiffin, Iowa. Parents organized as never before and pushed back against the mask mandate. Not violently like the media likes to display, just parents hoping to maintain control of their own children attending public schools. Parents used social media to discuss topics, voice opinions, and coordinate efforts to be heard.
Anti-mask mandate parents made signs and attended the Wednesday board meeting where they were not allowed to speak. They could only fill the room and hold a sign. Board President Jennifer Mooney warned all present that outbursts would not be tolerated, and the uniformed Johnson County Sheriff’s Officer present made sure enforcement would be swift and final.
Parents listened respectfully to the entire meeting holding their signs reading, No Mandates, My Kid My Choice, Don’t Mask Our Kids, and many more. All board members were given time to voice their opinions vehemently after the school administration presented its suggestion to the board following a zoom interview with the CCA District School Nurse Kathy Campbell, who by most accounts is loved by all. She has obviously researched and thought long and hard about this issue and the safety of our kids not displaying a political leaning whatsoever. She explained that she recommended a 10 percent threshold for the number of kids absent as a point of action due to the fact that is the number required by the state to report sickness. Campbell explained the number doesn’t mean 10 percent COVID-19 cases, it means a school with 10 percent of kids out from attendance for any sickness.
With the advice of the beloved school nurse, backed with data from the last months of the COVID-19 pandemic showing our numbers decreasing and currently around three percent, the administration came up with the suggestion or perhaps the solution for more than just CCA, perhaps all of Iowa.
The Administration suggested that each individual school be monitored and if any school were to reach the ten percent number for kids out with any kind of sickness that individual elementary or middle or high school, not the entire district, would mask up for one week. During that week, numbers would be monitored, and if they were the same or up at the end of seven days, another seven days of mask wearing would be added. If the numbers were back down, then the mask requirement would be lifted.
Seems simple, seems logical, seems reasonable, obviously not political! The truth about the numbers is the fact that at no point in the pandemic has CCA ever been over ten percent.
Obviously, this compromise infuriated the folks that want masks on now and forever. However, it felt like a reasonable solution for parents holding signs and fighting against mandates. This result allows the parents who want the kids to breath the free air to do so, but only up to a point, which lets the mask up folks feel like they’ve not been forgotten entirely.
Did CCA just provide a model for the entire state? Maybe so.
Let parents decide if they want to mask their kid or not up to a certain point. Seems reasonable. Both sides got a little and both sides think they didn’t get enough. Sounds perfect.
The teens in Clear Creek Amana even got involved and sent emails of their own to the board stating their views on masks. It was good to see hundreds of people involved who had never been involved before. The school administration put in the work and put forward a reasonable solution to a tough spot. Kudos to them. Parents and students made new associations and came together to affect change and were rewarded with a plan that is likely the envy of most of the state. And the CCA Board of diverse political leanings listened to the suggestion of their administration and passed a commonsense motion that gives both sides something to be happy about.
Great job CCA!
Full Disclosure: This author has had two children graduate from CCA, has a current junior, and next year will add a freshman. #CCAROCKS #GOCLIPPERS