Masks recommended in area school districts by CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics

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Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has medical officials reconsidering wearing a mask to prevent the further spread of the virus.

This includes inside schools.

First News at Nine’s Leeann Stapleton talked with a health expert about why masks should be worn again.

The safest to get kids back in the classroom and keep them there for the school year is to wear masks in school.

Doctor Gregory DeMuri is a pediatrics and infectious disease specialist at UW-Health in Madison. He says wearing masks in school is important.

“The reason for that is that we’re not really done with COVID,” DeMuri said. “Children in a school environment are frequently not vaccinated. Remember, children less than 12 are not eligible for the vaccine.”

DeMuri says masking-up in schools could help keep classes in-person and possibly avoid the stresses of having to switch learning modes.

“I know that meant in the other time period, last year, that kid would be pulled from school for 10-14 days and watched from the outside of the classroom,” DeMuri said. “They’d have to go back to the virtual learning. We can prevent this. We can keep more kids in school and more kids in the classroom by implanting masking in the classroom.”

Heidi Eliopoulos is the superintendent of the Altoona school district. She says her district will not require masks to be worn, but they will be in a position to make any changes to the policy should they be needed.

“We followed the guidance by the CDC, so you take away those layers of protection one at a time to see if there’s any impact,” Eliopoulos said. “Then, if you need to re-add in layers of protections, you can do that as well.”

Regardless of which way Altoona schools decide go, Eliopoulos says from learning options to masking, she is trying to not to make parents have make a black-or-white choice.

“Instead of bringing options to our families and having them choose from a limited menu, we’re going to put as many options in front of families as we possibly can instead of asking them as a group to try and limit,” Eliopoulos said.

Along with the school district of Altoona, the Eau Claire Area and Chippewa Falls Area school districts are not requiring masks to be worn once classes begin in the fall.

DeMuri, however, believes the CDC’s message is a good way to fight and potentially curb COVID-19 in schools.

“The safest way to get kids back in the classroom and keep them there for the school year is to wear masks in schools,” DeMuri said.

In Eau Claire, Leeann Stapleton, First News at Nine.

Eliopoulos says her district will monitor exposures and cases and respond accordingly.

Along with Altoona, the Eau Claire Area and Chippewa Falls area school districts are not requiring masks to be worn once classes begin this fall.

For the School District of La Crosse, mask mandates will be monitored on a weekly basis. As of now, masks are required for those not vaccinated.

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