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ROYAL CENTER — Pioneer Regional School Corporation voted Tuesday to keep its existing mask requirement.

According to Superintendent Charles Grable, ever since students returned from the Labor Day holiday, they have been wearing masks, which has cut down on the number of quarantines. The elementary school has had three quarantines, while the high school has had two.

Before the mask mandate, the elementary had seen 135 quarantines with 23 positive cases, while the high school had more than 200 quarantines and 34 positive cases.

Sticking with the Indiana State Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Grable said that “if students wear masks, we don’t have to quarantine for close contacts, or if students are outside, we don’t have to quarantine for close contacts.”

The administration and teachers will continue to monitor students and the possible need for masks. If signs show that COVID-19 numbers decrease in the county, Grable said the administration may allow for masks to be optional at that point.

The school corporation’s mask requirement went into effect when students returned to in-person learning on Sept. 7.

The policy says that masks should “completely cover the nose and mouth, have at least two layers of breathable fabric (should block out light when held up to a bright light source), and be washed regularly.”

“Masks made of mesh, containing a vent or exhalation valve, or a single layer of fabric will not be allowed,” the policy says.

Under the policy, masks are recommended — but not required — for adult spectators at athletic and ECA events. However, they are required for Pioneer students attending the events whenever they are sitting together or going to the concession stands or restrooms.

Grable also said Wednesday that classified staff — including aides, bus drivers and custodians — who have been employed with the corporation will receive an increase in pay. This follows the previous pay guidelines that have been set by the state.

The corporation is negotiating potential pay increases for teachers with the union.

Reach Kristi Hileman at kristi.hileman@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5150

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