Our mask mandate was about our care for others

Every year, Decorah Community School District has three to six teachers who are blessed with being pregnant during the school year. Those individuals continue to serve other children as they prepare to welcome their own children into the world. Our mask mandate was in place to give those teachers the peace of mind needed to do their job effectively. 

We have staff who provide love and care to elderly parents. They work in close quarters with dozens and even hundreds of students and fellow staff each day and then act with love and care for their dependent family members in their personal life. Our mask mandate was in place to give those staff the comfort to serve others while still serving those they love most. 

We have students who live with high-risk grandparents, parents, and family members. They spend every day surrounded by their peers on our buses, in our classrooms, and on our playgrounds. Then they go home and give hugs to those they love. They sit on the couch together and watch a movie, and at the dinner table talking and laughing. Our mask mandate was in place to give those students and families the opportunity to feel safe at school and safe at home.

My wife is currently battling cancer and is an employee of Decorah Schools. My 11-year-old son is a Type I diabetic and is a fifth-grader at Decorah Middle School. My 97-year-old grandmother lives in an assisted living facility. Perhaps these personal realities heighten my empathy for those who love people most at risk of serious issues if they become infected with COVID-19.

The Decorah Community School District mask mandate was never a measure intended to force people to protect themselves, it was a measure put in place to ensure the idea that we are a community of care was more than just words. 

Today, that pregnant teacher is struggling to do their job. Today, that associate who cares for an elderly parent is less able to focus on work. Today, that student who lives with a grandparent with a heart condition is less able to learn. Today, I will worry about the choices of those who come into contact with my wife and son as they go to work and school. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continue to clearly recommend individuals wear masks at school. When I cannot practice social distancing, I will continue to wear my mask for our teachers, employees, and students. I encourage everyone to demonstrate the same care for those around them.

36 thoughts on “Our mask mandate was about our care for others”

  1. Thank you for your clear-minded leadership and your profound example of leading through example and empathy.

  2. So eloquent. I would hope that people are of good will and will continue to wear masks out of common decency. Prayers for you and your family.

  3. No matter what one’s opinion of the substance of the legislation, it is disgraceful that legislation is passed in a manner that allows no opportunity for the public to know what is happening, let alone have any input.

  4. Servant leadership at its finest. Your words are an inspiration during this trying time. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Thank you for writing this. It is eloquent. And so true. Masking has ALWAYS been a way to care for our community.

  6. I am moved by your words and the caring spirit, empathy, and wisdom which you model and exhibit. We value your strong leadership.

  7. Thank you for your compassionate heart and clear-eyed leadership. As a DCSD parent and community member, I’m so thankful for your work here in Decorah.

  8. Thank you for your work and leadership through this incredibly challenging year. We greatly appreciate all that the staff and administration of the DCSD give our community and students, and for setting the right examples at every level. Thank you.

  9. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful, powerful words. And thank you for your leadership. Take care!

  10. I’m glad Reynolds is finally taking control. The cdc and Fauci have said many times the masks don’t work and then go back on it time and time again. People get sick every day and Covid isn’t the only virus out there which people seem to have forgotten. I’m happy my kids no longer have to wear masks. They aren’t good for our health and I have friends that ended up in the er because of wearing their masks for long periods of time. Idk about others but I for one like to breathe and enjoy fresh air.

    1. Tara, you are a dolt who cares little for others. Thanks for the neanderthal commentary (and for entirely missing the point).

    2. Wait… ER for mask wearing? Then shouldn’t surgeons have been going to the ER for decades now…? 🤦‍♀️

    3. The CDC guidelines are that unvaccinated people (including children) still need to wear masks. Also, recent data show that schools that required masks have 37% fewer cases.

      Enjoy your “fresh air.” This selfish attitude is what is wrong with our pandemic response.

    4. Lack of empathy, selfishness and willful ignorance like yours is why we will see over one million deaths to COVID19 in the United States. It’s blood on your hands. How does it feel?

    5. Many of your statements are false. I bet I can guess what news station you listen to. Living in a society is about caring about that society. Maybe you can let us know when you get Covid, i bet the ventilator is a lot worse than the inconvenience of a mask. Living in a free country does not mean you are free to do whatever you want.

  11. Thanks for your leadership. We agree wholeheartedly with your position. Our grandchildren attend your schools and we are impressed by your compassion and empathy. God’s blessings.

  12. All have this has been about community over self. Unfortunately we live in a “self” society. Thank you for a GREAT school year!

  13. You were an excellent grade school Principal years ago in Urbandale and your excellence still remains. Thank you.

  14. Very nicely written. Very astounding ignorance. Ignoring what thousands of medical doctors & even scientists, immunologists & virologists have been saying about the so-called pandemic, masking and ensuing experimental gene therapy injections (“vaccines”). Wonderful job at helping spread the propaganda of the CDC & Fauci who own patents on the viruses AND the “vaccines” to supposedly protect us from those viruses. Thank you to all the ignorant Americans who support this agenda, for laying out the red carpet for tyranny. Of course all of us care about children, pregnant women and grandma. But if you really cared, you would do your due diligence rather than bottle feed yourself with the propaganda from the mainstream media and leftist politicians. We all have to do our part. Do not let yourself be led by fear and propaganda which has led this whole “pandemic”. Even the CDC itself has said the numbers are grossly inflated, that the real numbers of those that have passed from the real virus or less than 10%. Think about that.

    1. Thought about it. Righty, you are wrong. You are the ignorant one. You are the one believing all the lies of a sick and twisted man who lead this country into the worst division since the Civil War. Tyranny? Look in the mirror at your own party’s agenda. Do you believe all humans should be treated alike? Do you truly believe that or will you dance around that question because deep down you can’t accept needed change in our society? History keeps repeating itself and you know why? Because close minded, ignorant people will not accept or condone any kind of change in society for the better.
      Getting back on subject:
      I suppose the next step would be for our Governor to intervene and tell Superintendents and Transportation Directors they can not call off school due to inclement weather.

      We have all had friends and/or family who have been on all sides of this pandemic. There are exceptions, but for the majority, masks work. The fact is even if there is 1/10 of 1% danger and a mask could save a life, it’s worth it.

      Once a life is gone, it’s gone from this world as we know it forever. The meaning of life is two people talking… communicating. Once one is gone from this world that’s it. Loss needs to minimized.

      I wish for you only the best and that this dreaded virus doesn’t take you or someone you know.

      Peace, please take my world over.

    2. You seem to be led with fear. Fear that you can’t control this, so you deny it.
      I will trust the words and opinions of my doctors, some who have many advanced degrees over someone’s opinion who has a Google M.D.

  15. Thank you for your kindness and compassion. You are an inspiration to others who care about people around them. We are a better society when we focus on the concern of others instead of only ourselves. There’s so much we can do for our society when we do that. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

  16. I have always allowed all comments to my blog posts to be posted regardless of content. I ask that people please refrain from name-calling in comments. Feel free to share your agreement or disagreement with my original post, or the comments of others, but please do so in a civil, respectful manner.

  17. There is so much truth and beauty in this post. Yet another example of how your outstanding leadership has kept me going this year as a teacher and parent in this district.

  18. I have appreciated your thoughtfulness, your transparency, and your dedication to the well being of students and staff throughout this school year. It takes real heart to do what you do. Thank you.

  19. Cheering you on from Tokyo. Proud of the work of Decorah Public Schools have done during the pandemic which speaks volumes for the respect the school enjoys across the state. Keep leading by example and the lessons learned by our students because of them will stick with them for their lifetime.

  20. Thank you so much for your caring and compassionate leadership. We are so fortunate to have you as Decorah’s superintendent. God bless you and your family.

  21. This personal blog is a great place for your opinions and political bias, they don’t belong in an email ending with @decorah.k12.ia.us.

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