GRANGER, Iowa — After the first Friday night football game showed many fans not wearing masks and failing to properly social distance, the superintendent of Woodward-Granger Community School District tells Local 5 that changes would be made going forward, starting with a mask mandate at games.
"To be real frank, I think people were like, 'Hey, I'm experiencing this cautious fatigue. I'm kind of tired of being cautious.' That's a lot more difficult to manage than maybe what it was in the winter and the spring," said Superintendent Matt Adams. "And so you have to be a lot more explicit about the behaviors that you want to see when it comes to spectators and community and what are those mitigating strategies that we want to see in order to ensure what I'm calling the long game. The long game is keeping students in school and in front of teachers. I use the term 'reflect and refine' and use it on a daily basis."
Adams said he began communicating with families in early July the behaviors that they should be doing before school started in order to ensure the year began safely and in-person. He said he'll continue to assess how policies are being followed throughout the school year, especially outside of the buildings.
"When I see things that are working against my long game, that's when we are going to make some changes," said Adams. "The coronavirus doesn't stop after the dismissal bell. How do you say, 'Let's do these things outside of school to ensure that we are keeping everybody healthy and safe in school?' I know I can't eliminate it in our schools, but I can minimize it in our actions and behaviors."
Adams said before the first Friday night football game, masks and social distancing were strongly encouraged, not mandated. Now, district officials will be cracking down on those who don't follow the new mask mandate at sporting events.
"We really need that culture of responsibility and for people to buy in...," Adams said. "We are trying to manage a stadium area and to make sure that people are doing their part for that long game. I would much rather have students and teachers in school than any athletic or activity event going on in our schools. They're all important, but kids in school, in front of teachers, is my number one priority."
Adams said he is pleased with how the teachers and students are following the rules inside the building. So far, just two students out of a district that serves around 1,200 students have tested positive for COVID-19.