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Racine County school discusses ending mask policy, parents concerned

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To wear or not to wear? That is the question the Waterford Union High School District is considering regarding mask policy in schools.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus in Wisconsin

Tuesday Waterford Union High School principal Daniel Foster contacted parents via email and told them the students and staff would receive a survey, asking if they are more comfortable if masks are required or optional.

“I was a little confused from lots of different vantage points. I thought okay where did this come from," Lori Richards, a parent of a student at Waterford Union High School told 12 News Wednesday. “I think we have to do what’s best for our children, and I’m not sure their vote, that they would know what’s in the best interest, even as a parent I think we need to rely on guidance from people at the CDC and health department.”

Richards is not alone in her concerns. Several other parents and district employees were at the board meeting Wednesday night to express their concern.

"Take the politics out of it, and look at the science and look at the current trends of what's happening now," Mike Nelson told the board.

Right now kids ages 10 to 19 make up 10% of the COVID-19 cases in Racine County. That number is growing and is considered 'high risk' for more COVID-19 spread.

About 68% of the staff in the district received two doses of the vaccine. On Monday, everyone 16 and older is also eligible. However, some high school students still aren't old enough and don't have a vaccine option.

"Not every high school student is even eligible to get the vaccine yet, they were just available starting Monday. My husband and I haven't gotten it we just had gotten our first shots," said Richards. "The timing just seems to really be jumping the gun."

Board members addressed some concern and said the survey will not be a deciding factor for mask policy. They said it was only to gather information on what students and staff want.

"We as a board are trying to gather information for the constituency, from our staff and teachers and from the students," said board Vice President Mike Schoenfeld.

The Racine County Health Department Deputy Health Officer Jeff Langlieb told WISN 12 News Wednesday he is aware of the survey. He said on April 1, when the Supreme Court overturned a mask mandate, the Health Department sent a letter to all county schools recommending they add mask policies if they didn't already have one.

WISN 12 News asked if the health department followed up with the Waterford Union High School District after learning about the survey. Langlieb said he did, and the Health Department continues to recommend mask-wearing in schools.

The board will vote on this at its next meeting later this month.

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