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Green Bay school board makes masks optional in some buildings for grades 9 and up

Posted at 12:03 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 20:34:42-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) -- The Green Bay Area Public Schools Board of Education voted to make masks optional in buildings that only house students in grades nine through 16, starting June 14 for summer school.

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Face coverings do not have to be worn outside. But they are still required for grades 3K to eight and inside buildings that include elementary and/or middle with high school grades. It's the first time the board loosened restrictions since the start of the pandemic.

"I would have said 'masks optional' from the beginning," Green Bay parent Jann Larson said. "If you feel the need to wear masks, definitely continue to do that."

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GBAPS' restrictions will be lifted in accordance with CDC guidance, which still asks schools to enforce masking.

Because masks are only optional in buildings that house students from grades nine and up, Larson's kids will still have to wear face coverings.

"My middle [child] is ripping her hair out," Larson said about the effects of masks. "She started it a couple days after going back to school. She started ripping her hair out."

Larson says the mental health of her children is suffering from masks in the classroom.

"[They] have the option to do virtual school. They have the option to home school on their own," she said. "Personally, their fear should not affect my life."

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Face coverings do not have to be worn outside.

For other parents, the district's new policy is ideal.

"I'd like to see kids under 12 be able to be vaccinated before they lift any masking requirements," Green Bay parent Lea Walschinki said.

Walschinski says she would pull her kids out of summer school if masks were no longer required.

"I just would not feel comfortable in their safety," she said. "Between their safety and what they could potentially bring home, because my husband has cancer."

Though the district's relaxed requirements only allow some high schoolers to take off their masks, Walschinski hopes the board doesn't go any further until she believes it's safe.

"Giving somebody the choice to mask or not mask takes away my ability to keep my kids safe," Walschinski said.

When using district-provided transportation, riders will still be required to wear masks based on federal guidelines. For sporting events, athletes still have to follow WIAA requirements.

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The motion passed states students and staff must wear masks again if district infection rates reach one percent over five consecutive days.

The motion passed states students and staff must wear masks again if district infection rates reach one percent over five consecutive days. GBAPS' restrictions will be lifted in accordance with CDC guidance, which still asks schools to enforce masking.

In Ashwaubenon, the board announced face coverings are still required for the foreseeable future. GBAPS' original motion called for board members to make all masks optional.