- Steve Richards

Steve Richards

Superintendent, Seymour R-II School

Although protective masks won’t be required in classrooms during the upcoming 2021-22 school year, which begins next Tuesday at the Seymour R-II School District, masks will be required when students ride the local district’s school buses, Superintendent Steve Richards said.

“This is a federal mandate,” he explained Monday.

“Bottom line, we really don’t have a choice in the matter. When students ride our buses to and from school, they will have to wear a mask.”

The mandate was made official last Thursday at the regular monthly meeting of the Seymour R-II Board of Education as the school board approved its “SRCSP 2021-22 Plan,” a nine-page document outlining the district’s steps to prepare for the health, wellness and safety of its students and staff. Regarding transportation, the school’s new policy reads,

“Effective immediately due to a federal mandate, bus drivers and riders are to wear a mask while riding the bus. A sign will be on each bus reminding students to wear a mask. Masks will be provided for bus riders, if needed. The primary focus of the bus drivers is to transport students safely to and from school.”

Richards said the change is in place strictly because of the federal mandate.

“This isn’t a policy we invented,” he said.

“It’s a policy that’s in place because there is a federal mandate on the matter. When any student rides a bus, wearing a mask is required. It’s not our rule. It’s a federal rule.

But we will comply.”

However, he said there are exemptions.

“Medical waivers (allowing students to not wear a mask when riding a school bus) are available,” Richards noted.

What qualifies a student to receive a waiver?

“It’s not something that goes into a one-size-fits all type of an explanation,” Richards said. “To receive a waiver or to learn more about (the waiver), we’re asking parents to contact the appropriate school office.

“In other words, if you have an elementary student for whom you’re seeking a medical waiver, contact the elementary office. The same goes for students in the middle and high schools — contact those offices.”

Aside of the change requiring masks on school buses, Richards said the district’s safety plan for the upcoming school year is the same as the one in place a year ago.

“Nothing else is different,” he said.

“We’re entering this school year at Level 1, just as we did at this time a year ago. There are two higher levels, Level 2 and Level 3, and we hope to stay at Level 1.”

Any questions about safety for the 2021-22 school year can be addressed by calling the school at 417-935-2287, then going to the appropriate extension.

“Our administrative staff also is here on site to answer any questions, so if anyone prefers to stop by one of our buildings or our administration office, don’t hesitate to do that at any time,” Richards concluded.

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