LATHROP, Mo. — On Sept. 8, the Lathrop R-II school board voted to keep masks optional as the entire elementary school was closed due to numerous positive COVID-19 cases.
This week, students are back learning in-person, unless they tested positive for the virus and are learning from home.
"We’re just trying to do the best we can and keep everybody here," said Chris Fine, superintendent of Lathrop School District.
The board also did away with testing students for COVID-19.
"We’re trying to catch those kids earlier rather than by testing but just by symptoms and keep those kids home and hopefully keep more students and staff healthy in that regard," Fine said.
Fine also told KSHB 41 News surrounding rural school districts don't have a mandate for masks.
"For our community, it’s just not right for us, and so we’re just trying to do the best we can without masks," Fine said.
It's a decision that sits well with some parents.
"I personally don’t wear a mask," said Lathrop parent Sherrine Goad. "We’re a smaller district, so you know we don’t have, you know, hundreds of kids in one grade. Our largest grade has 77 kids, so it’s different for us because we’re so small."
But this decision didn't sit well with other parents who didn't want to speak with KSHB 41 News out of fear of retaliation.
One Lathrop elementary school teacher spoke with KSHB 41 News but wished to not be identified.
"When we started back to school, we basically started with no masks and no procedures in place at all," the teacher said.
The teacher went on to say she's concerned over the lack of students wearing a mask and getting others sick.
"Kids won’t test, and they’ll come back and be sick and get other kids sick — I just have to be really careful as a teacher. That’s why there needs to be masks, that’s why we need to mandate masks so our kids can be there — they can be there safely," she said.
According to the latest COVID-19 dashboard, 12 Lathrop students in the district have positive test results and 40 students are quarantined.
To look at the latest numbers, click here.