APPLETON, Wis. (NBC 26) -- For Appleton Alderman Sheri Hartzheim, it all began when she didn't have the chance to speak at her local school board meeting without a mask.
And it followed with a press conference.
- Appleton Area School District votes to require masks for students and staff this fall
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"They can constantly tell us 'well, masks are working,'" the District 13 alderman said. "How do we know? Because we've never gone without them."
Hartzheim hosted a public meeting to address what she says are 'illegal actions' and 'misconduct' within the Appleton school district. She's calling for an end to the current mask mandate. Hartzheim says she is not representing the city or common council.
Prior to tonight's Appleton school board meeting, Alderman Sheri Hartzheim hosted a press conference to address 'misconduct' and 'legal violations' within the district. Dozens of protesters stood by her side to rally against AASD's mask requirement. pic.twitter.com/vSoNIokmil— Ben Bokun (@ben_bokun) September 14, 2021
"I would like us to have some sort of additional masking exclusions like religious exemption or personal conviction exemption," she said.
Hartzheim was prohibited to speak at Monday night's board meeting for refusal to mask. Citing state law, the alder says it's a violation of her rights.
"You can view it online or something like that," she said. "That's not technically an open meeting when it really comes down to allowing us to be able to speak to our elected officials."
The district did not have a response at this time.
Still, Appleton parents like Emily Tseffos are for the district's mask requirement.
"We have unvaccinated students that will suffer because of the ending of these mitigation strategies that have worked for us so far," Tseffos said. "My children would rather go to school unmasked but we know that we need to take care of the most vulnerable people in our community. And that's it."
Protesters have taken to the streets of Appleton, where the area school district is set to hold a meeting that could decide if masks are required this fall. Families on both sides of the masking debate are in attendance. pic.twitter.com/jUmqUIdClL— Ben Bokun (@ben_bokun) August 23, 2021
Hartzheim says she's heard stories of abuse aimed at students over wearing masks improperly. But Tseffos hasn't heard the same.
"I don't know the details of any of the claims that have been made in this press release," Tseffos said. "And so that's problematic to me as a parent. That raises red flags."
For now, the debate rages on in Appleton.
"[If] numbers drop in the future, then yes, I believe in optional masking and doing it that way," Tseffos said. "But right now, this is what the moment calls for."
AASD launched a new Covid-19 dashboard. There are currently 30 positive cases among students, along with 33 students who are in quarantine.
And the district is reporting three staff members with positive cases, and zero in quarantine