Masks Will Soon Be Optional for E.C. Public School Students
district cites decline in COVID cases, availability of tests and vaccines
V1 Staff |
Beginning as early as this week, most students in the Eau Claire Area School District won’t be required to wear masks inside school buildings to slow the spread of COVID-19.
In a letter to district families Monday, Superintendent Mike Johnson wrote, “We are now announcing a shift from a mask requirement toward recommending masks, allowing families the option to decide.”
Starting Tuesday, Feb. 15, masks will be recommended – but not required – in the district’s middle and high schools. The same shift will occur on Monday, Feb. 21, at elementary schools. “This will allow time for our staff members to successfully establish new routines for our youngest students,” the letter stated.
“Parents should consider their child’s risk for severe COVID and risk of COVID for close family members, loved ones, teammates, and friends when deciding whether they will have their child continue to mask at school.”
EAU CLAIRE AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT
Masks have been required in Eau Claire schools since the beginning of the school year (as well as during the 2020-21 school year). In his letter, Johnson cited several factors in shifting to required to recommended masking:
- COVID cases have significantly declined for our entire community, students, and staff.
- There are vaccine options and widespread availability to all school-age children and adults.
- Testing options are widely available, and medical treatment has advanced for those with COVID.
- More evidence indicates the omicron variant is less severe than previous variants, especially to those who are vaccinated.
According to the school district, 980 students were quarantined and 276 had tested positive for COVID-19 during the week ending Jan. 15. As of last week, this had declined to 131 students in quarantine and 63 who tested positive for the virus.
Masks will still be required in some circumstances, including on school buses and at Prairie Ridge Early Learning Center, both because of federal rules. In addition, “Students and staff who return to school on day six after testing positive or being exposed to COVID-19 will continue to wear a face covering through day 10,” the letter state. Students and staff participating in Test-to-Stay must also mask.
Ultimately, the new policy leaves the onus on parents to decide whether their children should mask up or not. “Parents should consider their child’s risk for severe COVID and risk of COVID for close family members, loved ones, teammates, and friends when deciding whether they will have their child continue to mask at school,” the letter stated.
Learn more at the school district’s online COVID hub.