School District of Janesville reverses mask stance, now requiring them

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 8:47 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 10:32 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - After a meeting full of back-and-forth debate, the School District of Janesville Board of Education voted to require face coverings for everyone in all school district buildings Tuesday night.

This is reversing their original ruling from earlier this summer, when the board voted to make masks optional in the school district. Many parents spoke before the meeting Tuesday, saying they preferred the optionality and arguing their kids had a harder time learning with face coverings on. Some argued the opposite, saying masks didn’t phase their children.

“Although we had 5 million problems in the last year and a half, masking was the least of our worries. The kids were resilient,” one parent said.

Commissioner Elizabeth Paull saw both sides of the issue but ultimately voted in favor of masks, explaining the delta variant was too uncertain to leave kids unmasked.

“If the people out there think we’re doing this because we love masks, please know, we hate them. We don’t want them,” she said.

The 6-3 vote to give masks the greenlight came after two failed amendments to limit the mandate to elementary and middle schools.

The requirement is now set for all people inside the school district’s buildings from Aug. 25 to Oct. 28, or the end of the first quarter. The requirement has exceptions for those under the age of 5 and those with certain conditions and disabilities.

The board decided that when it came to sports, schools could follow the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s guidelines.

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