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R-1 to require masks

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Bolivar R-1 Schools will require all students, employees, volunteers and visitors to wear masks on campus. 

The guidelines went into effect Monday, July 27, R-1 spokesperson Sammy Jacobson said. 

According to a post on the district website, Bolivar Schools will provide washable cloth protective face coverings for all employees and students when classes resume in August. 

“We will also have disposable protective face coverings available for visitors,” the post reads. “Everyone will also have the option of wearing their own protective face covering.”

According to the district, the guidelines come as part of recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Missouri Department of Health and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

“Bolivar R-1 Schools is mindful of the evolving need for emergency measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the post reads.

According to the post, acceptable protective face coverings will include masks, face shields, scarfs, bandannas, and buffs or gators. Ineffective mesh face coverings or face coverings with holes will not be permitted. 

Protective face coverings may not include “messages or images that distract from the learning environment as outlined in the student handbook.”

“Protective face coverings that conceal the wearer’s entire face, such as ski masks, gas masks, costume masks, etc., will not be permitted,” the post reads. 

The guidelines apply to students in grades kindergarten through 12 at all school functions and on all campuses and school-provided transportation. 

Students and employees may remove masks for eating and drinking and when school-determined social distancing procedures are in place. Masks can also be removed for documented medical conditions, specific instructional needs and  special behavioral or individualized needs. The exemptions are under a case-by-case basis, the post states. 

“This procedure (also) applies to students waiting outside school buildings before and after school and to students waiting at bus stops,” the post states. 

R-1 superintendent Tony Berry did not return a request for comment by press time Tuesday. 

During the Bolivar board of education’s Thursday, July 16, Dr. Shannon Calvert, pediatrician at Citizens Memorial Hospital, told the board masks were needed to keep spread low and stressed the importance of seated education this fall. 

“Calls to child abuse hotlines have decreased by 50%,” she said. “We know that statistically the amount of abuse is not decreasing by 50%. It’s because those kids aren't seeing other people. It means we’re increasing deaths by them not being in school. That’s contradictory to think that sending kids to school during a pandemic will save their lives, but that's the reality we live in.”

Refusal

According to the district, students who refuse to wear a protective face covering at school or at a school function “shall be required to leave the school campus,” per the district’s dress code. Disciplinary procedures also apply on district transportation. 

“Employees who refuse to wear a protective face covering at school or at a school function under this procedure shall be subject to discipline, including termination,” the post states. 

Those with questions should email communications@bolivarschools.org or call 326-5291.

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