Rene Abels served as a school board member of the West Hancock School District. In less than six months of starting her term, Covid hit Iowa. By March 2020, the district moved to virtual on-line learning.
(In the) summer of 2020, the board worked on their "return to learn" plan for in-person learning. At the August 2020 board meeting, some community members spoke on the importance for students and staff to wear face masks while in the school buildings, on buses and at school events.
One mother spoke about her special needs child, the risks Covid posed not only to her child but any other student or staff with other health risks, and how potentially deadly Covid could be to them.
The board minus one decided not to use face masks. Rene was always alone on her island, and consistently voted with science and the medical experts, the lone vote in favor of mask usage.
The board, other than Rene, granted future masking/unmasking decisions to the superintendent. I asked the superintendent what criteria he would use to determine when to mask or unmask. He was not able to give me any specifics.
The board and superintendent had made a decision not to follow guidelines by the CDC, State Public Health or local Board of Health. Once a large number of students were out of sports due to quarantine of Covid exposure, then the decision was made to start masking.
With Covid cases now declining, the school has decided to unmask students and staff. Since unmasking we now see a doubling increase of Covid cases. CDC still recommends use of face masks.
Thank you Rene Abels for following science and the medical experts, and putting the health and safety of our school staff and students as your number one priority.