Sauk Prairie parent says third grader’s medical needs call for mask requirement

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 10:42 PM CDT
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PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. (WMTV) - In a school district prepared to take a fluid approach to a mask policy, one parent says her daughter’s medical needs call for a mask requirement.

While the “hope is to be mask-optional,” the Sauk Prairie School District wrote to families Tuesday that the policy for the next school year may change depending on COVID-19 risk at a given time.

Superintendent Jeff Wright shared the letter with NBC15, explaining that either school or regional activity can inform changes to the mask protocol.

“That may mean that we’re requiring students to wear masks partway through the day when they didn’t at the beginning of the day, the same way we respond to other school emergencies or concerns,” he said. “It also may mean that we’re changing week to week based on the conditions in the overall community.”

The district covers parts of Sauk, Dane and Columbia counties.

Robin Ballweg, a parent of a third grader at Tower Rock Elementary, said she has called on district administrators to make masks mandatory all the time. She said her daughter Jacky has cystic fibrosis, which affects organs like the lungs, and has spent the pandemic going between home and the hospital.

“For her, the hospital now is like a vacation. She gets to leave the house. She’s done virtual [learning] the entire time and hasn’t grown, academically,” Ballweg said.

According to a COVID-19 online resource from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, “A recent international analysis of 105 children with cystic fibrosis diagnosed with COVID-19 found that COVID-19 in children with CF was usually associated with mild illness in those who did not already have severe lung disease.”

The group added, “All people with CF should continue to take extreme caution to avoid exposure to COVID-19. As always, people with CF are encouraged to work closely with their care teams to assess their personal risk during this time.”

With school set to start Sept. 1, Ballweg said a mask-only rule will protect her daughter in the classroom.

“If everyone in the school wears a mask, and she wears a mask, the doctors have reassured me that she’d be safe,” she said.

Wright said, Monday night the school board approved the thresholds that would move schools between a mask-optional and a mask-required policy. The letter explaining the measures can be found here.

Earlier this week, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recommended all schools should require masks.

Masks will be required in public school districts like Madison and Baraboo. Janesville and Milton schools are making masks optional.

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