Eau Claire Area School District to consider face mask requirement

Parents and students weigh in on wearing masks in school.
Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 9:37 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - This year many parents and students are adding a face mask to their back to school shopping list.

The Eau Claire Area School District is considering a mask requirement for the fall, an issue that will be on the table at the school board meeting next Monday.

Erin Olson plans to send her daughter Rita to back school for first grade along with a mask.

“My experience with kids is that they are extremely resilient. Any new rule that is implemented there will be challenges but kids can handle most any new change,” Olson says.

Rita and her younger sister have been practicing wearing masks and Olson says they even find them to be a bit of a novelty and are excited to pick out different patterns.

Kate Wagner is a school speech therapist and is sending her kindergartner back to school this fall. She says wearing masks is a realistic option for schools.

“I would be supportive of that if you can’t maintain that distance to have it on at all times or as much as they can with the kids,” Wagner says. “We have made masks at home and she will wear them. We will see how long she will tolerate it but we will ask her to wear it.”

However some parents like Hailey Johnson say wearing a mask is not neccessary.

“My kids won’t even keep them on for a doctor appointment,” Johnson says.

In Altoona, students and staff will be required to wear face masks when they cannot maintain six feet of distance from others, according to their back to school plan. It’s an approach that is approved by Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Lieske Giese.

Giese says her department has been working closely with schools as they plan to bring students back to the classrooms.

“We are encouraging schools to find ways to distance as the first strategy and when and if that is not possible to find other ways to decrease the risk of transmission including the opportunity to wear a face covering whenever that is possible,” Giese says.

The CDC is also strongly recommending the use of masks in schools.

Regarding the consideration of a mask mandate, Eau Claire Area School District Superintendent Mike Johnson says, “We believe it is the responsible action to take in the interest of minimizing risks for everyone in our school buildings, as well as the people they interact with outside of school. We sincerely appreciate our school community’s cooperation with this policy. If we all do our part, we can protect public health and help ensure we can proceed with our hybrid learning model this school year.

While there are still many questions and uncertainties about what this fall will bring. One thing is for certain, that this will be a school year unlike any other.

“It is tough all around but it is important that people have tolerance and patience and hopefully it will work for everyone,” Wagner says.

After Governor Evers announced the mask man

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