Mitchell School Board approves a return to school plan requiring face masks for all

The Mitchell School Board voted 5-0 Monday to adopt the Student Services Return to School Protocols Table. The document says the Mitchell School District will follow guidelines by the South Dakota Health Department.

It includes a provision that anyone on school property will be required to wear a mask until such time as the pandemic is deemed over. Numerous people offered their opinions to the board.

Sonya Van Erdewyk spoke on behalf of the Mitchell Kernel Parents Against Mandatory Masks. “Mandating masks that have not been proven to prevent transmission not only takes away freedom of choice, it also creates a false sense of security,” said Van Erdewyk.

Dakota Wesleyan University Biology Professor Brian Patrick disagreed. “No, masks are not 100-percent effective,” Patrick said. “However, they have been shown to slow the spread, period.”

Board member Lacey Musick felt it was the proper way to go. “While masking at the elementary level does have its challenges at the beginning,” said Musick.  “with any learned behavior when it becomes part of the expected school culture, it becomes less of a challenge.”

Board member Neil Putnam reminded the audience this is a draft document and is subject to change.