O'FALLON, Mo. — For the next 30 days, students and staff in the Fort Zumwalt school district are mandated to wear masks, but some parents may be looking for loopholes to the rules.
While parents protested outside of the Fort Zumwalt district office, Superintendent Bernard DuBray says things have remained positive in schools on day one of their mask mandate.
“I was in the high schools today and the vast majority of the kids all had their masks on,” said Superintendent Bernard DuBray.
Sixth-grade student Chase McDonald said it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing in his school.
“Now that we have to wear masks it’s very hard to learn because you have this thing distracting you all day,” said Chase McDonald. “If you break it you have to go to the office to get a new one which takes time out of your learning.”
Superintendent DuBray says .008% of Fort Zumwalt students currently have COVID-19, but that’s not why the school board enacted the 30-day mandate.
“They wanted to be as safe as they could for the kids and take advantage of the modified quarantine which basically can only be implemented when both parties are wearing masks,” said DuBray.
However, emails from Fort Zumwalt School Board President Michael Swaringim to parents say he’s “disgusted” with the decision, calling it a “debacle.”
In one email, Swaringim tells a parent that if they call the superintendent's office and request a medical exemption that they will receive one without question.
“I think there may have been a misunderstanding there,” said DuBray. “There are opportunities for a medical waiver that’s got to be signed by a doctor which would keep a kid from needing to wear a mask.”
DuBray admitted he expects the number of medical exemptions to increase in the coming weeks.
“We have to have patience between now and the next 30 days,” said DuBray.
In the meantime, McDonald is asking parents on both sides of the debate to stop the war of words.
“To me it’s kind of stupid,” said McDonald. “It is what it is. It’s not going to change, so you might as well just deal with it instead of argue with it.”
Despite threats from parents to pull their kids from school, attendance numbers were normal.
The Fort Zumwalt School Board is scheduled to revisit their masking policy at their Oct. 18 board meeting.