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Abby schools clarify mask expectations

Abby schools clarify mask expectations Abby schools clarify mask expectations

By Ross Pattermann

The Abbotsford Board of Education held a special meeting Tuesday night to revisit the issue of masks after getting feedback from staff members through a recent online survey “The reasons for the meeting is there were concerns expressed by the staff regarding the mask procedure and exemption procedure as it was designated for students,” superintendent Sherry Baker said.

Staff members had reservations regarding the recommendation of facial coverings, and also a parental waiver that would leave some students exempt from wearing a mask during classroom instruction.

“I believe the staffs input is they would like you to reconsider a waiver that comes with documentation,” Baker told the board.

Board member Shanna Hackel pointed out that not every parent or guardian within the district has easy access to a doctor. Hackel said many parents are concerned with the cost of obtaining a doctor’s medical waiver.

Taking these issues into account, the board chose to keep the existing protocol.

Per Gov. Evers’ emergency order, students attending in-person instruction are required to wear masks as well as during transit to and from the district.

The board confirmed the district will follow this mandate during last week’s monthly board meeting. This requirement will end on Sept. 28, but based on a recent survey of 86 staff members, almost 50 percent were in favor of requir-

See MASKS/ Page 8 ing students to wear a facial covering even after the emergency order expires.

This runs contrary to survey results from parents and guardians in the district. Over 200 members of the public responded, and only 31 percent were in favor of requiring students to continue wearing masks once the mandate expires next month. Over 55 percent were in favor of just recommending the use of a facial coverings at that point.

As the father of children in the district, board of education president Eric Reis said that once the order expires, he would leave the choice up to parents, believing a parent knows what is best for a child’s mental and physical health.

“Speaking as a parent, I feel that I know what is in the best interest of my child’s education, even more so than a medical professional,” he said. “Our doctor spends maybe 15 minutes a year with my kids. I feel as a board member I don’t feel like I have the right to decide what’s in the best interest of their child.”

Board member Gary Schraufnagel said the COVID-19 situation changes day to day, and that once the mandate ends, the board should recommend masks, and revisit the issue later if something should happen in the future.

The board approved a motion to support the recommendation of mask wearing after Gov. Evers’ mask mandate expires. Baker said the district would “do everything in its power to help those staff with pre-existing medical conditions stay gainfully employed.”