CENTERVILLE — As Centerville hopes to return to in-person learning this fall, masks will be “strongly recommended” for everyone. With one exception: masks are requested on district buses.

The policy will not be so strict as to leave mask-less kids on the side of the road, superintendent Tom Rubel said. However, if they continue to decline they will eventually have to find another way to school.

“The mask is going to be required on the bus,” Rubel said. “If they show up and they don’t have a mask, we’re not going to leave them by the roadside. We will have them the mask to put on.”

But student refusal to wear a mask on the bus isn’t an option, Rubel said. “There won’t be a lot of negotiations.”

The building principal will be notified once the student arrives at school if a student doesn’t wear a mask.

Lakeview Elementary School Principal Terri Schofield said if a student doesn’t wear a mask on the way to school, they could have bus privileges revoked the same day, meaning they’d need to find another way home.

“We cannot subject everyone else to that opportunity to get sick,” she said. “We’re committed to taking care of everyone.”

Staff is expected to wear a mask and/or a face shield when they are within close proximity to students, Karen Swanson, the Howar Middle School Principal said.

The district will be utilizing some special funding to hire additional support staff to clean restrooms and other frequently shared spaces and high-touch areas.

In the event of someone with COVID-19 symptoms or if they are a positive case, the district has committed to sharing as much information as possible. They will work with local and state public health officials in determining action at that time. Rubel said the district expects additional guidance from the state for this area in early August.

District officials on Monday held a community meeting via the Zoom online conferencing platform. The district has posted a video recording of the virtual town hall as well as a PDF document of their plan on the school’s website at

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the first vice president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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