West Allis-West Milwaukee School District votes to start school year with universal mask requirement

NOW: West Allis-West Milwaukee School District votes to start school year with universal mask requirement

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WEST ALLIS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The West Allis-West Milwaukee School District's among a group of school districts in our area taking up the mask issue as the fall semester nears.

Parents on the side of mask choice walked out disappointed Monday, Aug. 9.

The district voted to start the school year with a universal mask requirement in every grade level.

As summer comes to a close, parents filled the West Allis-West Milwaukee school board meeting. 

For more than an hour, they addressed the board one by one, with passionate pleas on both sides of the mask issue.

"If we're gonna be safe, let's be safe all around. I don't care what Dr. Fauci says and CDC, this is saving people's lives," said one mom.

"They don't really provide any protection. But I do believe if that makes you feel better to go to school wearing a mask that's fine, but I just don’t want anybody telling me that I can't make that decision for my child," said another mom.

One suggestion -- why not get the year started with optional mask-wearing and then watch the numbers, making masks a requirement only if the data supports doing so.

"Why can we not compromise? Let's see what the first quarter looks like...if there's a need for masks, if we see rates rising amongst children, then let's revisit it," said parent Rhonda Jones.

That suggestion came to a vote, but failed to pass. 

The CDC is presently recommending universal indoor masking for students. So is the Wisconsin Department of Instruction and the American Academy of Pediatrics. That's what the board ultimately went with.

"So we start with the safest approach following the guidance, and then whether it's four weeks or six weeks in, we start to look at how things are going in secondary schools in particular. And then we also set some metrics in what we would want to see in order to trigger some of that," said Superintendent Martin Lexmond.

West Allis-West Milwaukee's younger students will wear masks until a vaccine becomes available for them, and then for six weeks after it's made available. 

For older students, the mask requirement will remain until the data suggests a reason for choice.

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