Special Board Meeting Update & Transportation Changes
On Wednesday, Sept. 15, the Johnston Board of Education held a special meeting with the purpose to vote on the required use of masks as an additional mitigation effort for all PreK-12 students and staff when indoors. The special meeting can be viewed on the Johnston Live Stream Network under the “On Demand” tab.
This meeting and proposed vote comes after the Johnston Community School District, along with 9 other districts in the state, were named in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and disability rights groups on behalf of 11 parents of children who would face possible severe health risks if they were to catch COVID-19. On Monday, Sept. 13, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against Iowa Code section 280.31, meaning the decision of a mask requirement would revert back to a local school district decision. Read the judge’s ruling here.
Outcome and Next Steps
Because there are legal ramifications pending the board decision, board members tabled today’s vote to issue a mask mandate in the district. They will hold a closed session with district legal counsel in the upcoming days and then hold a second special board meeting to vote on the matter. Similar to today’s meeting, it will be livestreamed and open to the public. Anyone wishing to share their input can email board members, as public comments are not part of a special meeting agenda. The board expressed a desire to hold the closed session and special meeting within the next week to provide families with a decision.
How the New Ruling Affects Transportation
Up until Monday, Sept. 13, there had been conflicting state and federal guidance on how the CDC mask order applied to school buses. With the judge’s ruling, it is now clear that masks must be worn by students and transportation personnel while on the bus.
Moving forward, masks will be required when students are on school buses, beginning Monday, Sept. 20. There will be progressive disciplinary measures, similar to last year, for bus riders who do not comply with the mask mandate. If this change in our practice causes your family to alter your mode of transportation to/from school, please notify our transportation department at 515-278-8149 and your child(rens) school so we can update our transportation routes.