MPS Board to consider new mask requirement standards amid concerns over proposal

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Public Schools Board is set to consider a new COVID-19 mask policy at its meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 27, but the proposal has drawn concerns as spread of coronavirus remains prevalent in the community.

The proposal put forth by MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley uses only percent positivity of COVID-19 cases in the city to determine when face coverings would be required in the district. When that figure reaches 10 percent or higher, masks would be required for MPS students and staff.

But only using the positivity rate from COVID-19 tests goes contrary to what is used by the City of Milwaukee Health Department and Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. Both entities use multiple metrics including new cases per 100,000 people, new hospital admissions and percent of inpatient beds occupied by a COVID-19 patient.

"Is percent positivity good? It's probably a little better than case numbers especially now that testing is done but it doesn't show the true impact on the community," Milwaukee County chief health policy advisor Dr. Ben Weston told CBS 58.

Weston said using multiple metrics as recommended by the CDC gives a fuller picture of spread in the community. That's because some factors, like more people using at-home tests instead of public health testing, leads to an underreporting of cases.

"I think what the CDC has put together are fairly simple metrics that when they go together it talks about the disease burden in the community and the impact of that disease burden in the community," Dr. Weston said.

Range of reactions to proposal

The proposal form Posley received mixed reactions, including from Green Bay republican congressman Rep. Mike Gallagher who expressed fatigue at the mention of masks being potentially required for the district.

"These bureaucrats want to go back to that and punish our kids further, because of their own fear?" Gallagher said in a post on Twitter. "Please, MPS board, reject this."

There's also concern the new proposed standards are too lax.

Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association president Amy Mizialko sent CBS 58 the following statement.

“MPS Administration and the School Board adopted a standard just months ago for when masks become optional. Why now, in the midst of a nationwide COVID surge, is MPS Administration and a minority of School Board members seeking to change the standard? The Milwaukee Health Department, who recently issued a citywide mask advisory, has criticized the rationale for this change. The School Board should wait until this surge is no longer at extreme levels.”

Proposal set to be presented Thursday

The proposal also includes guidance for students and staff who test positive for COVID-19. Those who test positive would have to quarantine for five days and wear a mask for five days when they return to school.

The MPS School Board is set to meet Thursday night.

More info about the agenda can be found HERE

The proposed plan can be found below: 


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