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Appleton school board to vote Monday on mandatory face masks

Empty hallway in an Appleton school
Empty hallway in an Appleton school
Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 1:50 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Appleton’s school board will vote Monday on a proposal to require face masks for all students, staff and visitors as we get closer to the opening of the new school year.

The proposal would apply to all students from early childhood through 12th grade, staff, and visitors indoors in schools and district facilities and on school buses and other district transportation. Last month, the school board voted to make masks optional for students.

If approved, the requirement would take effective Wednesday, August 25. The school board would revisit the protocol in October.

A letter to parents on Friday says the school district is considering the change because of the growing numbers of COVID-19 cases with the highly-contagious delta variant. The letter says the burden of cases in the counties the district serves -- Outagamie, Calumet and Winnebago -- rose from 17 per 100,000 to 157 between the week of June 20 and the week of August 16. In the city of Appleton alone, that burden is currently 291 per 100,000.

The school district says burden rates haven’t been that high since February and March, but schools were successful staying open for in-person classes then because of mitigation efforts, including face masks.

The Appleton Area School District is planning in-person classes five days per week. “Using all of the layers of mitigation tools and strategies that were proven to be effective last year while continuing to keep all students fully in-person gives us the best chance of success for students and staff,” the letter reads in part.

Friday, the Oshkosh Area School District announced it’s going to require face masks for students, staff and visitors through October 1. It also cited the rising number of coronavirus cases in its school district.

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