Oconomowoc school board approves plan making face masks mandatory indoors, optional outdoors

NOW: Oconomowoc school board approves plan making face masks mandatory indoors, optional outdoors

OCONOMOWOC, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Dozens of Oconomowoc area school district parents are getting heated on the issue of face masks. Some want masks to be optional in schools, while others don't.

Both sides made their voices heard at a board meeting Tuesday night, May 4. 

The school board approved a plan Tuesday night to continue making face masks mandatory indoors until the end of the school year, but make it immediately optional for students to wear one when outside.

Some parents say masks are a thing of the past and want students and parents to have the freedom to choose whether or not they want to wear one. 

"I say forced to wear a mask, because if I wanted her to have a proper education, what choice did we have?" asked one parent.

Meanwhile other parents say it's too early for students to unmask.

"I stand before you as somebody who's had friends and family suffer from this virus and died, and it is serious," another parent said. 

"While we're going in the right direction, we know we're not quite there yet," said parent Jackie Knuckles. 

During the meeting, the board shared the phased approach. The district says they've had successful containment of the virus so far, but the plan had mixed reviews from parents. 

"Keeping the masks on our kids for another 182 hours of school is just completely unnecessary," said parent Jessica Berg. 

"The recommendation seems like the right one," Knuckles said. "Finish out the school year strong with masking, move into more of a transitional phase over the summer."

The next phase would allow masks to be optional indoors and outdoors at the beginning of summer school.

The phased plan also said the optional masking indoors and outdoors would continue through the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, but it will be based on local health conditions at that time. 

"My kids have already applied for open enrollment in a different school district that isn't planning to follow that, personally," said Berg. 

"The virus, like I said, is not yet finished with us," another parent said. "The vaccines are being rolled out. We need to hold the line."

Dozens of parents have said they plan to fill out a religious and medical exemption form that will allow their child to not wear masks indoors, even with Tuesday night's decision.

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