Ashwaubenon schools to require face masks for 4K through 6th grades

The new rule takes effect Friday, Sept. 10.
Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 10:09 PM CDT
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ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WBAY) - The Ashwaubenon School Board met Wednesday night and voted to require masks for students in 4K through 6th grade -- students who are too young to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. The rule takes effect this Friday, Sept. 10.

The school year began with face masks optional for students and staff -- though “highly encouraged” for those who aren’t fully vaccinated. The discussion at the school board meeting looked at the number of students who have to be quarantined -- 40 on Tuesday, then more than 90 on Wednesday, including two entire classrooms.

The school board says the decision will help keep kids in school. Students who have close contact with someone who tests positive for the COVID-19 virus don’t have to quarantine if everyone involved was wearing a mask.

Students who are vaccinated also don’t have to quarantine for a close contact, but a child must be at least 12 years old to get vaccinated.

The school district’s online dashboard shows 92 students were absent for COVID-19 related reasons Wednesday, including 50 students in preschool through 5th grade. Parkview Middle School had the most COVID-related absences, account for 32 of the 42 middle and high school absences. Cormier School had the most COVID-related absences among elementary schools, with 30. The school district says 10% of Cormier students were absent Wednesday, for any number of reasons.

Additionally, 3.7% of Ashwaubenon’s teaching staff and 3.4% of its non-teaching staff members were absent Wednesday. However, the school district says only 3 teacher absences, and none of the non-teaching staff absences, were COVID-related.

As of Sept. 7, the latest data available, Brown County was averaging 211 cases for every 100,000 residents and 10% of coronavirus tests were coming back positive over the past 7 days.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports 56% of Brown County residents received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 52.7% completed their vaccination series.

According to minutes from the August 11 school board meeting, the school year plan, including the optional masking, passed the school board by a 4-1 vote. Board treasurer Michelle Garrigan voted against the plan after saying she supported masking in elementary schools, where students don’t have the option to be vaccinated or attend class virtually. At the same meeting, board member Cassondra Pink, who voted for the plan, said if the masking requirement were changed, she thought it should take effect district-wide to be consistent, because there are families with children enrolled in multiple schools.

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