Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
With Washington and Jefferson County public health officials staying out of school mask debates temporarily allowed by a recent federal court ruling, Henry County’s department was more willing to make a recommendation.
“We would love for them to have the mandates, we would love for them to have masks,” Henry County Public Health Director Shelley Van Dorin said. “It was so much easier last year when they would wear masks.”
The department sent an email to school officials restating recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for mask mandates on Sept. 17.
“Given new evidence on the (delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people,” the email said. “CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.”
Despite her recommendation, Van Dorin said she sympathized with districts opting to hold off on their mask policy debates.
“Even if the school board decides to adopt that, and have a mask mandate, then what if the legislation goes through and says that you can’t do that?” she said. “It’s a lot of wishy-washy back and forth, and those sorts of things are very frustrating to (the) public … I understand if they want to kind of see how the appeal goes, but the Board of Health did want to send a message so that they would have the recommendation.”
Van Dorin did echo some language from Washington and Jefferson counties, acknowledging that the decision ultimately fell to school officials but hoped department input helped inform those discussions.
“If they reach out for information, I’m available,” she said. “We’re just providing information about what’s recommended, and they can choose how to use that.”