1 in 3 COVID cases in Wisconsin are children, Oak Creek parents push for mask mandate

NOW: 1 in 3 COVID cases in Wisconsin are children, Oak Creek parents push for mask mandate

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Parents are concerned in the rise in COVID cases as the Milwaukee County Health Department is reporting one in three COVID cases in Wisconsin are children.

Some schools in the Milwaukee area are seeing a rise in cases. The Waukesha School District, where masks are optional, is reporting 54 cases. Oak Creek/ Franklin School District is reporting 44 cases as of Sept. 10. Oak Creek is one of the few districts in Milwaukee County without a mask mandate.

"It's just been very frustrating to know that the people that are in charge have decided they weren't going to listen to any of the science supporting masking in schools," Stephanie West said.

Stephanie West has four children in the Oak Creek/ Franklin School District. She already had one daughter exposed this year. She said that notification of exposure did not come until one week after she came into contact with the person.

"So that was a full week that she was at school, granted she's masked, in contact with other students," West said.

West said her daughter tested negative. But she wants to see the district implement a mask mandate.

"Until we can get the vaccine available for children. And once the children can get inoculated, then consider modifying the mask mandate," West said.

Hope Kelling's daughter is an 8th grader in the Oak Creek School District. Despite being fully vaccinated for COVID-19, she tested positive for the virus Tuesday morning. Kelling believes her daughter got it at school, where her daughter said most of the kids do not wear a mask.

"I don't hold fault the teachers or the leadership within the school. I hold fault to the school board," Kelling said. "I genuinely feel that the only way we're going to get through to these people is if a child dies, and that is so scary and so sad and it breaks my heart."

The superintendent of the Oak Creek/ Franklin School District, Daniel Unertl, said the school board is watching COVID cases closely. He said the district is also on top of contact tracing and gets to work right away when someone within the district tests positive.

"My heart is filled with empathy for families who are struggling with this issue," Unertl said. "Updates are certainly possible."

He said the school board is willing to be flexible and there is always a possibility the no mask mandate could change.

"We are in a very place today that we were in the summertime, when our district had a great summer school experience in a summer school environment.  I wouldn't be shocked if this issue was revisited," Unertl said.

On Tuesday's Milwaukee County COVID update, Dr. Ben Weston said the science is clear and children need to be masked in schools and vaccinated if eligible.

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