Sageville Elementary School in Dubuque reaches three percent COVID-19 positivity rate, implements mask mandate

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 10:46 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Samantha Korman received an email Monday afternoon from the Dubuque Community School District that she said immediately made her think of her daughter.

”When I found out, I felt really bad for her, because I know how she feels about wearing a mask,” Korman said.

Korman is referring to an email that stated that, as of Tuesday, students, teachers, and visitors at the building would be required to wear masks after the building reached a 3% COVID-19 positivity rate. That was the threshold the Dubuque School Board had decided on two weeks ago regarding when it would be appropriate to implement a per-building mask mandate.

“I know how it affects her with her learning, how it distracts her,” Korman said. ”She can usually wear her mask up to a couple of hours, but once it starts getting soggy or she starts playing with it, it kind of distracts her from learning.”

Korman applied for an exemption so her daughter would not need to wear a mask in school. She cited brain health reasons for it. However, she said pulling up to school Tuesday morning was rough.

“She is like, ‘Well, if everybody is wearing a mask, my friends are, then I need to because I do not want to be the only one not wearing a mask,’” Korman said. “So I feel like, having that exemption but seeing everybody wearing a mask, she felt like she had to, so I think that just added more stress into her and she does not understand peer pressure. She does not understand that it is okay for her not to wear a mask.”

Korman’s daughter is one of very few students at Sageville Elementary exempt from wearing a mask. Mike Cyze, the district’s chief communication officer, said less than 75 parents have filled out exemption forms for their children.

”About 3% of the students at Sageville have applied for an exemption, so a pretty small number in the overall scheme of the students in the school,” Cyze said.

Cyze said, as of now, only 0.7% of students would qualify as exempt from wearing masks. He said the superintendent’s office is reviewing these forms daily, especially when a school reaches the 3% positivity threshold.

“Of course when we make the move to, for example, Sageville to have the mask requirement in place, we are making sure that we are looking at those and processing those on a more frequent basis,” Cyze said.

Cyze said the district is reviewing its COVID-19 dashboard daily, which holds the data the district uses to determine whether a school building must begin implementing a mask mandate. He said they hope to let parents know as soon as possible when a building needs to move towards that.

“Our goal is to make sure that, when we have to make that decision based on the percentages, that we are able to announce that in such a way that it is before the school gets over so we can give parents the advanced notice to respond accordingly,” Cyze said. “It also gives us the ability to announce in school for the next day before students dismiss for the day.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the district was reporting 77 positive COVID-19 cases: 67 students and 10 staff members. 11 of those students and one of the staff members are from Sageville Elementary.

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