Ricketts Stands Firm Against Mask Mandates

 Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is standing firm in his opposition to a statewide mask mandate despite a recent surge in coronavirus cases that threatens to overwhelm the state’s hospitals. 

      Ricketts used his Monday COVID-19 update to repeat his opposition to a mandate and to allowing local health districts to impose their own restrictions, saying uniformity is more important.

The Republican governor has focused heavily on voluntary compliance with campaigns urging people to avoid crowds, wash their hands frequently, and stay home if they feel sick or show symptoms of the virus – all in addition to voluntarily wearing masks.

Going on the record for a mask mandate, at least in schools, are 2 groups that often don’t see eye-to-eye: the State Board of Education and the NSEA teachers union. 

      The State Board passed a resolution last week calling for a mandate to ensure the safety of all students, staff, and community members. It also urges the other actions that do have the backing of the governor. 

     A survey of NSEA members 2 weeks ago showed 92% of the more than 6,500 teachers who responded said wearing masks should be required for both teachers and students while 86% reported feeling overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated or worried.

        A majority also said their school district is not listening to educator input on issues around teaching and learning during the pandemic, while nearly 1 in 4 plans to leave the profession by the end of the school year.