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Appleton School Board votes to extend mask requirement

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 9:24 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2021 at 10:11 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Students in the Appleton Area School District will continue with mandatory masking for at least another six weeks.

Members of the Appleton School Board voted 6-1 to keep the existing policy in place after hearing from a number of parents on both sides of the issue.

Parents on both sides of the issue gathered Monday evening. Those supporting the masking were outside of district offices, while those asking for optional masking met at the Freedom Project Academy in Grand Chute to address school board members over a joint Zoom link.

“The message that we really want to send is, you need to open your board meetings. We are not domestic terrorists, we are here to gather in a peaceful assembly and show them we can be a part of a board meeting, that’s what representative government is all about,” said parent Sheri Hartzeim.

However, others disagree.

“This is a hard time to be in a leadership position and be navigating all of this and I applaud the administration for following the science and the data,” said parent Emily Tseffos.

Currently, the district’s COVID-19 dashboard shows the number of positive cases among students at 41, which is 0.28% of the total enrollment.

The District’s expectations for in-person learning include masks and face coverings for all students, EC-12, all district staff and all visitors while indoors in district facilities, as well as on district transportation. However, the district’s website says masks/face coverings are option when outdoors.

That may seem low, but the district says community spread is still considered high among health officials, and less than 60% have been fully vaccinated.

So far, the district hasn’t had to close any schools, but some of the surrounding districts have.

“I believe we have been successful, as having this as one of our layered mitigation practices. For one thing as evidenced by the fact that we only had to have one classroom in our entire district have a time period when they’ve been fully virtual for a very short amount of time and that has not been the case by other districts in our area,” said Appleton Area School District Superintendent Judy Baseman.

As a result, the board voted to keep the masking requirement, with Deb Truyman being the only member against it.

The school board will review the policy again on November 22 to see if anything changes on the health front.

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