Ashwaubenon schools continue to require masks
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – Though wearing masks is no longer mandated in the village after the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a 4-3 ruling March 31 to strike down a statewide order from Gov. Tony Evers, masks will continue to be required in Ashwaubenon schools for the remainder of the school year, said Superintendent Kurt Weyers.
He said “nothing in the court’s decision or in the resulting invalidation of the governor’s state-of-emergency declaration has any bearing on local school districts’ authority to implement or maintain current face covering requirements for in-person instruction.”
Weyers said Ashwaubenon has a policy related to epidemics and pandemics, for which the district’s reopening plan currently in place calls for the use of masks on school property “as a mitigating strategy for the spread of COVID-19.”
“School districts derive authority to implement face covering requirements pursuant to Wisconsin Statute section 120.13(35), which grants school boards the authority to adopt rules applicable to persons who enter or remain in a building operated by the school board,” he said. “School boards may also conclude that such a requirement is consistent with or even necessitated by its obligation to furnish safe employment and place under Wisconsin Statute section 101.11.”
Weyers said school districts in the state currently have discretion as to whether to require wearing masks.
He said a decision will be made in the future as to whether requiring masks should continue into the 2021-22 school year.
Though some local municipalities, such as the cities of Green Bay and De Pere, have their own mask mandates in effect absent a statewide order, there is no mask mandate for the Village of Ashwaubenon.
Following the court’s ruling, Brown County Public Health issued an advisory “to strongly encourage individuals to wear masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
“Brown County Public Health has been consistent with recommending the use of masks throughout this pandemic,” said Anna Destree, county public health officer. “While vaccinations are underway, it’s important to continue to follow masking, social distancing and hand-washing recommendations, since we are starting to see variants in the Northeast Region and want to prevent a surge of COVID-19 cases.”
Ashwaubenon Village Manager Joel Gregozeski said the village is following the county’s health advisory.
However, Gregozeski said there currently are no plans for the village to enact its own mask mandate.
He said people without masks wouldn’t be barred from entering village facilities, as was the case for in-person voting April 6.