News Schools

Safe at School: Here Are Valley Schools’ COVID-19 Rules

a roundup of pandemic back-to-school guidelines set by Chippewa Valley school districts

Tom Giffey |

ON THE BUS? MASK UP. The Centers for Disease Control says masks are needed with on transportation.
ON THE BUS? MASK UP. The Centers for Disease Control says masks are needed on all school buses.

We hope you’re all rested and ready from a relaxing summer, because the first day of school is right around the corner. The last school year was a maze of frequently changing pandemic guidelines, and the coming school year will likely be the same: While vaccination rates are rising and COVID-19 caseloads in the Chippewa Valley are far lower than they were at their peak, they are nonetheless on the rise as worries about the delta variant grow.

We’ve compiled the latest available COVID-related policies from local public school districts, which are current as of late August. Please keep these guidelines in mind as you and those around you return to the classroom, but remember to stay flexible during what continues to be a fluid situation. The bottom line: Take care of yourselves – and each other – out there!


The district’s return-to-school plan was last updated July 23.

Masks: “Student and staff masks are optional in most school settings unless local orders change to require them.”

Classes: Altoona schools will be holding in-person classes for K-12 students five days per week. A fully virtual option is offered, but the deadline to sign up was Aug. 10.

Transportation: Students and staff will be required to wear masks while they are on school buses, per orders from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Quarantine: Close contacts of people who are COVID-19 positive will be required to quarantine at home and will be referred to the Eau Claire City-County Health Department. “Because of the physical size and organization of most school environments, most students or staff members who are quarantined due to being a close contact will need to be excluded from school for the full 14-day period, even if released from quarantine earlier for other environments.”

Learn more: and click on “2021 Fall Reopening Plan.”


At press time, the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District was still determining its final COVID-19 guidelines for the school year.

Masks: As of early August, the district said face masks would be optional in its schools. However, at the time Superintendent Jeff Holmes noted that could changes based upon county, state, or federal orders.

Classes: Chippewa Falls public schools will hold classes in-person five days a week. If a local outbreak occurs, the district may shift to a hybrid or virtual learning model.

Transportation: Masks will be mandatory on school buses until at least Sept. 13, when a current federal order requiring them expires.

Quarantine: “Quarantining and isolation will be determined by Chippewa County Department of Public Health officials. CCDPH will keep the district informed on those decisions where school-aged children are concerned. At this juncture, CCDPH may utilize the 7, 10, or 14-day models for making those decisions, depending upon the situation.”

Learn more:


The Eau Claire Area School District updated its COVID-19 guidelines on Aug. 12 to add a mask mandate.

Masks: The CDC determined Eau Claire County’s community transmission is currently high. Based upon the district’s Mask Requirement Metric, this means that all students and staff will be masked indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Current Requirements as of 8/25/2021:
Masks required indoors for students in grades PK-8 and 10-12 beginning Wednesday, September 1.
Masks required indoors for grade 9 and Link Crew student leaders beginning Monday, August 30.
Masks required for all staff in all buildings beginning Monday, August 16.

Masks are required for all students on all school buses (CDC requirement).

Students and staff will not need to wear masks outdoors.

Classes: K-12 students will attend school in-person five days a week. Pre-kindergarten students will attend school four days a week. Eau Claire Virtual School Students will attend online five days a week.

Transportation: The CDC requires face coverings for all public transportation. This requirement currently applies to all occupants of school bus and district transportation for students, including students traveling to and from school, on field trips, or on athletic buses.

Quarantine: “Fully vaccinated individuals without symptoms are not required to quarantine. CDC currently recommends testing of fully vaccinated close contacts 3-5 days after close contact exposure.”

Learn more:


The Menomonie school board approved the latest version of its COVID-19 plan on Aug. 9.

Masks: Universal masking will not be required in district schools. However, Superintendent Joe Zydowsky wrote, masking “is still very much allowed and encouraged.” He continued: “Principals, faculty, and staff will be on the lookout for any bullying and disciplinary problems related to mask use, but teachers in the SDMA will not be responsible for disciplining students for not wearing masks. Teachers will be directed to work with families who prefer to have their children wear a mask during the school day (much like how teachers work with parents who want their children to wear glasses in school). Please be sure to communicate with your child’s classroom teacher(s) at the beginning of the school year if assistance with student mask use is desired.”

Classes: Classes will be in-person five days a week. (A fully virtual option is offered, but the deadline to sign up was Aug. 12.) The district could move to a blended or safer-at-home model depending on the course of the virus in the community. Virtual instruction may be enacted “if student exclusions exceed 50% on any particular day, if students exclusions exceed 20% for a period of four consecutive weeks, or if the district is not able to provide enough staff to operate schools.”

Transportation: “The use of cloth face coverings is required on all school buses and other school-sponsored transportation.”

Quarantine: Those with COVID-19 symptoms, who have household members awaiting test results, or who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, are prohibited from attending school or school activities. However, “Current guidelines advise that individuals are not required to quarantine (or miss school) if they are fully vaccinated and are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.”

Learn more: