Boone Middle School working through new mask mandate, principal does not want focus to be on masking

Boone Middle School principal Scott Kelley let staff know what the expectations were prior to Monday’s mask mandate going into effect. Kelley sent an email on Sunday afternoon that told them there would be some differences from last year compared to this year.

“Last year we took the ‘mask required to enter’ stance,” he wrote. “However, this year, we’ve been told that we are not sending students home or denying entry to the building without masks. This, combined with a number of parents (not sure how many) telling their kids they don’t have to wear a mask in school despite the board decision on Wednesday, creates a challenging situation.”

Kelley wrote some are claiming religious or medical exemptions and that “could” exempt them from wearing a mask. That was not an option last year.

“I’m hoping that most of our parents will explain to their kids that sometimes there are rules that you may not like or agree with but, unfortunately, it’s still important to follow them,” Kelley wrote.

If students enter the building without a mask, Kelley said staff would be at all entryways offering masks. If a student declines or fails to respond, they’ll go to the gym or breakfast as normal.

Staff was asked to model the expectation of wearing a face mask to show students it’s not “the end of the world.”

“I realize some/many of you also don’t agree with/support the board decision,” Kelley wrote. “Again, I think it’s important to model for our students that, as part of an organization, there are times when we may not agree with a rule or expectation but it has to be followed anyway.”

Kelley asked staff not to write students up, send them to the office, seat them in the hall, etc. for politely and respectfully refusing to wear a mask.

“Don’t ask multiple times and know that we’ve already offered a mask at the door anyway,” Kelley wrote. “We DO NOT want to punish students for following the instructions of their parents and we don’t want to put them in the middle of an adult issue between parents and the school district. This has the potential to make school feel like an unsafe place for kids and we don’t want to take that chance.”

Kelley said he wants the year to remain focused on teaching and learning rather than masks.

On Monday morning, staff recorded students who were not masked during first hour. Throughout the day Kelley and his assistant principal called in students on the list to have “conversations” and work through the new expectations.

He said after meeting with students throughout the day, they’ll work with individual parents and families to see how conversations from Monday affect changes for Tuesday.

“Our goal is to work with families through love and logic,” he said.

Author: Jacob Hall