MMSD to lift outdoor mask mandate; indoor one stays in place

District officials described their new plan for lifting restrictions as “a phased approach;” however, the second of the two phases run indefinitely.
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 11:11 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2022 at 10:32 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Come March, Madison Metropolitan School District students can take off those masks – but, with limited exceptions, only when they are outside. A day after teasing an announcement, the school district revealed its new masking policy once the countywide mandate expires at the end of the month.

District officials described their new plan for lifting restrictions as “a phased approach;” however, the second of the two phases run indefinitely. To start, when Public Health Madison and Dane County’s current emergency order ends, the district will recommend, but no longer require masks for all students when they are outside.

“The first phase includes making masking outdoors recommended but not mandatory, and also allowing athletes and extracurricular activites to remove masks indoors when they are actively or physically participating and performing,” said MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds.

Under certain conditions, student-athletes, members participating in activities, and officials will not have to wear a face-covering when they are indoors. The district carved exceptions to its continuing indoor mandate when those individuals are “actively competing, exerting, or performing.” Spectators and coaches are not exempt and will still need to bring their masks.

As far as the indoor mandate, that will continue indefinitely with district officials promising to revisit the issue before mid-April. MMSD’s statement explained the district often sees spikes in cases following extended breaks. The April 15 deadline for the district to reconsider its mask policy comes two weeks after the kids come back from Spring Break.

“When students return on April 4th, that is when we enter this window, between April 4th and April 15th, where we will be looking at updating at updating our mask protocols based on the metrics and what we are seeing in our schools and in our communities at that time,” said LeMonds.

The district statement argues that, by breaking its policy changes into two phases, officials can better monitor COVID-19 spread in its schools and protect it from requiring the students to switch to virtual learning, should there be another spike in cases.

While the masking policies may be changing, MMSD assured families its other policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including: having people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who have tested positive stay home, asking families to test children showing symptoms, maintaining physical distancing, and frequent handwashing. The district also asks everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated.

Current MMSD guidance requires students and staff to wear masks inside of district buildings, regardless of vaccination status. Students and staff are also required to wear masks on buses, as well as outside for those grades 4K-8.

Dane County announced last week that it’s mask mandate would be expiring on March 1, prompting other districts in the area to make changes to their masking policies.

On Tuesday, Sun Prairie Area School District announced secondary students and staff would not be required to wear masks in school buildings once the Dane Co. order lets up. Elementary students and staff will need to wear masks until April 4, the week after spring break.

Verona Area School District announced on Monday that it would no longer be requiring masks in school buildings for those in grade K-12 on March 1. There will be different guidance for Pre-K students and staff released at a later date.

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District revealed last week that it would switch to a policy where masks are “strongly recommended and encouraged,” but not required.

Copyright 2022 WMTV. All rights reserved.