Waukesha School Board votes to make masks optional in schools

WAUKESHA COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Waukesha School Board voted Wednesday night, May 12, to remove the mask mandate in its schools and at district functions. The decision passed in a 5-4 vote. 

The district also voted to reinstate field trips, make drinking fountains functional and there will be no Covid restrictions for students playing together during recess.

Dozens of Waukesha School District parents rallied to make masks optional in schools prior to the school board's decision on masks moving forward. 

Some parents and students refused to wear a mask and distance at the meeting. They wanted their voices heard before a decision was made, asking masks be made optional immediately.

“If you have a group project in school, it’s very hard to hear people, teachers and students alike. I’m also a volleyball player and we’re required to wear masks during playing time, so I always get a headache,” said Waukesha North High School sophomore Lauren Spencer.

“She would struggle going to school in the morning—like honestly—it was tears, to the point where we had to go virtual," said parent Keri Spencer. 

Others say it's still too early for kids to go to school without masks. Some parents are disappointed in the board's decision last week to end quarantine procedures after exposure and say their kids would feel unsafe.

“He was visibly upset, he said that if the mask requirement were removed, he would not feel safe in school,” said one parent.

"Masks do work and they are key to letting our unvaccinated children get the face-to-face instruction that we all want them to have."

Waukesha's school board meeting is just one of a number of meetings area schools had the past few weeks on mask-wearing. 

Just last week, Oconomowoc decided to make masks optional for summer school, and this week, dozens of parents spoke out on the issue in Menomonee Falls and Elmbrook with no decision in the end.

“If the board were to remove the mask requirement—this board would be reckless and acting without any regard for the health and safety of their students, staff and teachers," said a parent.

Students playing sports in another school district will have to follow the mask policy in that district. 

Principals will also have full discretion over the quarantining of library books, personal items and use of barriers. 

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