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Mondovi Schools to mandate masks

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 7:14 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Beginning Monday, every Mondovi School District student and staff member will be wearing masks indoors during the school day.

That’s because the Mondovi School Board voted Thursday to institute a mask mandate.

The board’s decision comes after multiple COVID-19 related incidents.

On Oct. 22, Mondovi High School senior Dylan Passa died after testing positive for COVID-19 according to a GoFundMe page set up in his honor.

Mondovi Schools Superintendent Jeff Rykal said Passa’s death was not discussed in the mask mandate decision.

He said the district has had 58 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the school year started. That coupled with an outbreak stemming from last week’s homecoming parade and dance forced the district to act.

“Masks will be worn by all staff and students, and that’s in all grade levels, and it will be during the school day only,” Rykal said.

In addition to the new mask mandate, the district will be using other mitigation measures to try to slow the spread, especially at the elementary school level.

“We are placing them in seating charts, trying to space them at least three feet apart, you know, in classrooms with masks on, but at lunch time, snack time and breakfast time, trying to get out to that six-foot mark,” Rykal said.

Buffalo County Health Officer Josie Nauber said the new mandate won’t only help keep kids safe. Slowing the spread in school helps keep the virus away from everyone.

“They go home, they’re active members in their community, right. So less kids and less staff members get sick with COVID, then they won’t be bringing it home to their loved-ones and when they’re out in the community, they won’t be spreading it either,” she said.

Rykal said the decision not to mask up until now was made in July when case numbers were much lower.

He said he’s been discussing requiring masks with board members for week and is happy with their latest decision.

“Could we have done it sooner? I’m just actually very glad that we are where we are right now despite, you know, some parents not being happy about this situation,” Rykal said. “However, think it is the best strategy for us to keep kids in school and to keep them safe and health.”

He said a recent survey of about 400 Mondovi parents showed about two-thirds wanting district leaders to require masks.

Rykal added the mandate will remain until case numbers fall. Masks won’t be required before or after school or at sporting events.

He said about 20 percent of eligible students are vaccinated. There has been no talk of requiring vaccines for eligible students.

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