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All Wisconsin schools should require masks, DPI urges

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 9:38 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 8:58 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction is urging districts across the state to follow the revised COVID-19 guidelines the agency issued last week. Among the recommendations is a mask mandate for everyone inside schools, regardless of their vaccination status, as well as a list of mitigation and prevention measures each school can take.

In a statement Monday, State Superintendent Jill Underly indicated the guidelines will help keep students safe and allow the districts to avoid a return to remote learning. She noted that her experience at the district level taught her how much students and families want a return to the classrooms.

“To ensure our schools stay open to in-person instruction, it is essential districts do everything they can to keep kids, staff, and families safe,” she said. “With almost half a million children in our public schools currently unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, they remain vulnerable and susceptible to infection.”

The indoor masking policy “strongly recommend(ed)” by DPI comes on top of a mask requirement imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for all school buses, which are covered by the federal agency’s public transportation order. Some of the most main mitigation and prevention steps encouraged by DPI include:

· Promoting COVID-19 vaccination among eligible students, teachers, and staff;

· Promoting correct mask use; encouraging physical distancing and cohorting;

· Screening testing of students and staff experiencing symptoms; and

· Enhanced cleaning and disinfection.

“Our schools must take appropriate measures and utilize available resources to ensure the safety of their students and staff,” Underly continued.

DPI officials state its recommendations were developed in conjunction with the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services, which itself issued revised guidelines that included schools – and a mask recommendation in the counties where COVID-19 is spreading the fastest – following the CDC new guidance.

On Monday, the McFarland School District’s Dr. Wayne R. Anderson confirmed with NBC15 that its school board approved all individuals wear masks indoors during the start of the upcoming school year.

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