Cedarburg School Board votes to keep mask mandate for rest of school year

NOW: Cedarburg School Board votes to keep mask mandate for rest of school year

CEDARBURG, Wis. (CBS 58) – Students in Cedarburg Schools will have to keep wearing masks in the classroom for the rest of the school year following a school board vote.

After hours of public discussion on Tuesday, April 27, the school board voted to keep the current mask policy.

Under the guidelines, masks must be worn while in class but are optional outside of school buildings. They may also be removed in empty rooms and while eating or drinking. The district also will reduce its contact tracing efforts to 3 feet instead of 6 feet.

Dozens of parents, students and school leaders all spoke during the meeting. Some were happy with the board's decision to keep the mask mandate in place.

"If we were truly all in this together, we would be caring and we would be wearing masks to protect each other. It's a simple, easy thing to do," said parent Katie Pape, who has a child who is immunocompromised. "We want to protect our families. We want to protect ourselves."

"The Wisconsin Department of Health (Services) and the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Departments are all unanimous that masking should be continued at least through the end of the school year," said parent Aaron Schmidt.

The mask policy will continue through the school year, including summer school. The district noted in a press release: "With 30 days remaining in the school year, face coverings continue to be an important part of the COVID mitigation measures to keep all students and staff safe."

Parent Katherine Burrows said she was "disappointed" with the new policy of not enforcing masks outside. She said she believed this was in direct conflict with the CDC's new outdoor guidelines released this week.

"Our board last night said it's OK for kids who aren't going to be in a small group -- none of which have vaccines at least in the elementary and middle schools -- (to) take their masks off. That's not what the science is telling us," Burrows said.

Some parents urged school board leaders to let families decide whether their children should wear masks.

"Masking should be a parental choice. You're the leaders we depend on to make tough decisions in the best interest of our children. Please do not wait to see what nearby districts are doing," said parent Deb Ingrassia. "Masks create health concerns both mental and physical. They limit social and emotional engagement."

"Imposing mask-wearing and social distancing on our children by fear-mongering, neurotic adults is hurting our children in every way," another parent said during the meeting.

Tyler Weber, interim health officer for the Washington-Ozaukee Public Health Department, said the department supports masks through the end of the school year.

Weber said cases are dropping county wide, but they are increasing among young people. He noted that with the UK variant B117 variant on the rise, COVID-19 mitigation measures continue to be crucial.

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