Hastings Public Schools to require masks for students unable to get vaccine

HPS requiring Pre K through 6th grade students to wear masks.
Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 9:27 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Beginning Aug. 23, Hastings Public Schools planned to require students sixth grade and younger to wear a mask while inside of their facilities.

Jeff Schneider, superintendent for HPS, said there was a reason they’ve decided to ask these kids these ages to wear a face covering because they weren’t eligible for getting the vaccine yet. He added that after looking at the increased cases in the area, it had made the school board come to the decision to mandate masks for some kids, rather than leaving it a recommendation.

With students in sixth grade falling into this category and the two other grades in the building not having to wear a mask, Local4 spoke to Hastings Middle School Principal Shelli Pfeifer to find out if it would be confusing to distinguish who was and wasn’t supposed to be wearing a mask.

“They [sixth graders] only ever really interact with other sixth graders, they have their separate lunch time, their separate P.E. classes, so they’re always within their own pods,” Pfeifer said. “It won’t be hard to keep them apart from the other kids.”

To give students a break from the masks, she they would continue to do what they had done in the previous year.

“Teachers will have a place in their room that’s six feet away that if a kid just needs to pull it down for a minute, or they also have taken them, like last year they would take them outside for little mask breaks, they’d spread out and they could take them outside,” Pfeifer said.

Schneider said they had planned to reevaluate the situation by Sept. 17 to decide whether or not they would continue the policy or not. He added that if the district were to extend the mask policy after the first four weeks, they would again reevaluate their decision in a set period of time.

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