Maquoketa Valley joined Delaware County school districts, Edgewood-Colesburg and West Delaware, in continuing its mask requirement for students and staff through the completion of the 2020-21 academic year.

During its regularly scheduled meeting April 19, the board voted unanimously to maintain the current mask policy after receiving a presentation from Maquoketa Valley Families for Freedom spokesperson Luke Livingston.

Superintendent Dave Hoeger led the District’s response.

“I think it’s important for us to understand that we’re not on completely opposite sides of this topic. I think we share many of the same values,” Hoeger said. “I value giving parents and students choice in their education as much as possible. I’m sure you value the students’ safety while at school. The difference we have is how much emphasis is put on these different values.

“It’s my recommendation to the board that we continue to require students to wear masks while at school the remainder of the year. One of our primary responsibilities as a school board and a superintendent is to put policies and procedures in place that will allow our school to operate safely.

“COVID-19 has not gone away and we need to do whatever we can to reduce the chance that students and staff get COVID and transmit it to each other, either at school or to family members or the community while at home. Following the direction we’re getting from local, state and federal health officials, we need to continue to enact good hygiene, social distance when possible and to wear masks. Our goal is to keep our schools open.”

Hoeger told the board and visitors he recommends continuing with mask requirements through the end of the current year with re-evaluation this summer.

Board members spoke in favor of continuing mask requirements.

“I’m a sub bus driver, and I ask a lot of kids about wearing masks,” said board member Mike Feldman. “Not one of them has said they hate wearing the masks. I don’t want the seniors this year to miss out on graduation. I think it’s a good idea to wear the masks until the end of the year and then look at and see where everything is at.”

Board member Chris Huber feels Maquoketa Valley has had a good year despite the pandemic.

“I feel we’ve been very successful in opening and keeping our schools open because we did mandate masks from the very beginning,” Huber said. “Masks provide the option of not having to quarantine the entire class. As a school board, we need to evaluate what is best for all of our students.

“I’ve been approached by parents worried about lifting the mask mandate. There are parents on both sides of this. I just feel if we lift the mask mandate now we risk not being able to hold graduation, prom and other school activities.”

“I made two lists — reasons for a mask and reasons not to have a mask, and compared them,” said board member Doug Dabroski. “One of my columns seemed to have a lot more reasons than the other column. I really feel I’m responsible for the safety of our children at school and take that very seriously. I do not have a crystal ball, but I rely on professionals in the field. What I’m hearing is now is not the time to change how we’re operating.”

“I don’t particularly like the masks either, but it’s one of the things that’s helped us get through,” director John Zietlow said. “This district has allowed our kids to be in school the majority of the time. See what happens this summer and then we can make a plan.”

“We’re a district that didn’t need to cancel anything this year,” said Board President Donna Kunde. “Right now we have less than a month to get through this year. We can evaluate later and see what we do. I really want to be without masks next year.”

Keith Kramer, representing Maquoketa Valley Dollars for Scholars, updated the board on the financial condition of the organization. Kramer anticipates approximately $102,000 will be awarded to Maquoketa Valley seniors this year.

The board approved the following personnel recommendations: Mike Cook — employed as head high school baseball coach; John Grimm — employed as assistant high school baseball coach; Norman Wilson — employed as assistant high school baseball coach; Scot Moenck — employed as middle school softball coach; Jessica Dusek — resignation as first-grade teacher.

The board approved North Cedar’s request to join the Tri-Rivers Conference beginning with the 2022-23 school year, conveyed a land-locked property parcel to Lonnie Sternhagen and approved the call for a bus bid to be purchased with SAVE funds.

After returning from closed session, the Board approved salary adjustments for the 2021-22 school year, with administrative staff receiving a 3.49% increase and classified staff receiving a 2.5% increase plus step movement.