SASD to revisit board policy regarding optional masking

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Sparta School Board President Josh Lydon announced that the school board will be revisiting its mask mandate policy at a regular board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 14, and that there will be a portion of the meeting dedicated to public input.

On Sept. 8, the school board reinstated Board Policy Article 904, which required face coverings at school for all staff, students and visitors. It went onto effect Sept. 13.  

The policy aligned with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) recommendations that school districts implement mandates for face coverings indoors. 

The reinstated policy mandates that all staff and students age 5 or older are required to wear a face covering inside district buildings.

Per policy, students at the 4K level are encouraged to wear face coverings to the extent practicable; face coverings include cloth or disposable face masks and/or neck gaiters, a face shield may be worn in addition to a mask, but it is not an acceptable substitute.

The reinstatement of the policy led to much unrest among community members who did not and do not support mandatory masking and adamantly spoke out against reinstating the policy.

On Sept. 28, the board voted to consider returning to a mask-optional policy four weeks after a vaccine became available to children under the age of 12.

Earlier this month, DHS announced that children between 5 and 11 years old are now eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which requires two doses 21 days apart for full protection. It is the first and only vaccine currently available for the young age group.

According to Superintendent Dr. Amy Van Deuren, Monroe County and the Sparta Area School District’s COVID-19 case rate has had little to no fluctuation in the past four weeks.

“We are optimistic,” she said. 

While the vaccine for kids is not yet widely available at Walgreens, Monroe County Health Department did host two vaccine clinics this week and have several more scheduled in the coming weeks and into December.

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