Climax Springs R-IV removes district mask mandate, testing waters for next school year

Mitch Prentice
Lake Sun Leader
The entrance to the Climax Springs R-IV school building.

With positive COVID cases plummeting in the lake area and total administered vaccinations increasing every day, the eventual return to ‘normal’ is slowly becoming a reality. Adding to this return, Climax Springs R-IV School District made the announcement Monday night that they would be ending the mandate for facemasks to be worn within the school. In an online statement, the district announced the following:

“After a month of discussions, Climax Springs has all their staff vaccinated that want to be. We will unmask tomorrow to see how it works. We see schools all around us unmasking and don't want to wait till fall to try it out.”

Climax Springs Superintendent Caleb Petet says that this decision came with much discussion and surveying on the subject. He also says that school staff have been given enough time to determine whether or not they wanted to receive the vaccine and those that chose to be vaccinated have been. The district has also only seen single-digit positive cases since the end of 2020. With all of these factors at play, the decision was made to end mandated face mask usage. 

Petet says the decision was not made lightly, but they are happy to be moving forward into some return to normal. The hope is that, by testing a no-mask policy now, they will be able to determine whether or not next school year can go without masks for its entirety. 

From the start, Petet says masks have not been universally accepted by the community. He says that the district ran with a 100% mask-on policy in all areas of the school, making them one of the more strict in the lake area. However, Petet says that he and the school board want to be proactive against COVID and less reactive. 

Since removing the mask mandate, Petet says the community has been very positive about the decision and expressed gratitude. Though the ruling has been made, Petet stressed that the district will still be accommodating to those who still want to wear facemasks in the building. He recognized that, while a majority of the district are comfortable without masks, those still desiring the covering will have that choice. 

The new ruling was put into effect starting Tuesday, and Petet says seeing students come off the bus with fully-visible smiles was a true relief. He says teachers have reached out to him and told him that they were excited to wear makeup again to school and put on earrings, a practice that was difficult before. With these little bonuses, he says the choice has already made an impact on the mood of the district. However, if COVID problems rise once again, the district will have a tough choice to make moving into 2021-22. 

“It feels almost like you're naked without wearing a mask, but I have heard so many say they feel so free. I’m excited to have that feeling again,” Petet said.