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Masks Required at West Holt Through October

Since Monday September 28th, West Holt Public Schools has had three staff members test positive for COVID-19.  The most recent case involved a teacher who is very mobile throughout our school.  Because of this, the majority of our K-6 students were in the vicinity of this staff member, as were several of our older students.  This means that the majority of our students at West Holt are now of the self-monitoring status that is given by the North Central District Health Department.  If someone is deemed to be of the self-monitoring status, they are required by the health guidelines to wear a mask while at school.  Therefore, West Holt will be mandating masks for all students K-12, and all staff members, starting Monday October 5th.  This mandate will be in place until November 1st, at which time the situation will be reevaluated.  Because of the strong increase of cases in the city of Atkinson over the last two weeks, I feel this is the best approach to keeping our students in the school building and to prevent learning virtually.  If all students and staff are in masks, the only students who would ever have to be quarantined are those who are either exposed outside of school, or those who have symptoms.  Those with symptoms would then follow the quarantine guidelines we have been using since the beginning of the year. 


Believe me when I say, I know this is not what many of you wanted to hear; however, our school district held off as long as possible to not mandate masks, while nearly all schools in the area have already done so.  Please know this is not a political statement, nor is it a statement on the effectiveness of wearing masks, as I am well aware that there are arguments on both sides.  It is a result of the health mandates that have been given to us and what needs to be done for our school to stay in session.  Again, this will be reevaluated at the end of the month.


Please speak to your children about this change so they understand the expectation on Monday.  Likewise, talking to younger children and having them put on a mask with you can help them to be more comfortable.  Nearly all of our elementary students have been wearing masks in class when doing small group work and when they are in close contact with other students, so this process should be easy for them to understand.  I will be meeting with all staff members on Monday morning to speak to them about the expectation.  We will be giving brief “mask breaks” throughout the day to help our students and staff adhere to this mandate. 


If your child doesn’t have a mask we will provide one for him or her on Monday.  I appreciate the cooperation with this issue. 




Paul Pistulka


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