Masks optional in Ashwaubenon schools June 11
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – Masks will no longer be required in the district’s schools the day after classes end for the summer.
The Ashwaubenon school board held a special meeting June 1 and voted to make facing coverings/masks optional starting June 11.
To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the district required masks to be worn on school property since resuming in-person instruction five days a week for all grades in January.
Given the decline in new COVID-19 cases and an increase in the number of people being vaccinated for the virus, Superintendent Kurt Weyers said the district originally planned to continue to require masks during summer school for indoor classes, but make them optional for classes taking place outdoors.
However, Weyers said most neighboring districts are making masks optional after the end of the school year, or are planning on doing it soon.
“We talked about at our last board meeting (May 12) that we would run masks optional outside for summer school and summer activities,” he said. “We’re asking all of you to change that, and the recommendation of our administrative team (is) to make the Ashwaubenon School District’s face covering/mask requirement optional for all district facilities, starting on Friday, June 11.”
Board Clerk Jennifer Vyskocil said there are parents who signed their children up for summer school with the understanding masks would be required for classes indoors, as well as teachers who signed up to teach with the same understanding.
“In terms of teachers, I believe most teachers are vaccinated,” she said. “But if we lose a few teachers, there may be some shuffling around. I’m sure that can be handled, but I just I needed to say it, because… just playing devil’s advocate.”
Weyers said all district staff will be contacted about making masks optional indoors and outdoors this summer.
“We’re going to send a pretty lengthy communication to our families and staff regarding a survey that we want them to take, as well as updates on quarantine,” he said. “We may move away from 14 days to 10-day quarantine (for those in close contact to someone with COVID-19) for summer school, as well as… masks optional.”
Mike Mader, the board’s open enrollment representative, suggested making masks optional in Ashwaubenon schools for the final two weeks of the school year.
“The reason I say that is because, right now, anywhere you go to the stores – Costco, Walmart, Target – all of them are doing mask-optional now,” he said. “If you’re out at Memorial (Day) weekend at all – Door County, everywhere you went – it was all mask-optional for those areas. We have a large number of (people) vaccinated. We have a large number of immunities now. There’s a number of schools that have gone mask-optional now, including many that are the same size, as far as New London, Seymour, Germantown.”
Given the recent hot weather, Mader said it would be difficult to wear masks in a school without air conditioning.
“I think it would be great to allow these kids to make the decisions on it, because it still is mask-optional,” he said. “They still have that choice to do that.”
Vyskocil said many stores are mask-optional for people fully vaccinated, while many students are not vaccinated at this point.
Board Vice President Brian Van De Kreeke said summer school is optional to attend.
“I think we made the decision to go to the end of the school year (requiring masks), and my opinion is we stick to that,” he said. “We’ve got a (high school) graduation coming up (June 13), and (I’d hate to see) something happen just prior to graduation that throws a wrench in that.”
Weyers, who previously mentioned the district is also planning to make masks optional when students return in fall to begin the 2021-22 school year, said school and co-curricular activities are optional during the summer when wearing masks will also be optional.
Van De Kreeke said the administrative recommendation will make Ashwaubenon consistent with the rest of Brown County.
“We have so many kids that come in from the Greater Green Bay area,” he said. “We’re (a) a very different environment than New London or Seymour.”