As cases rise, Cashton parent raises concern over school board’s mask-optional vote

CASHTON, Wis. (WKBT) — More than 50 Cashton Elementary School students are out of class — quarantined for exposure to COVID-19. One parent says the school district’s mask-optional policy must be changed.

COVID-19 cases are rising nationwide, and so are new concerns over school mask requirements. At least 11 of those elementary school students are COVID-positive.

“Last week, we saw our numbers continue grow exponentially day by day, and so because of that, Superintendent [Ryan] Aldersen decided to call a meeting of the board,” said Maggie Cina, a parent of two elementary school students.

During that Sunday meeting, the board reviewed COVID protocols. A recent survey the school conducted found almost 65% of parents and about 90% of staff wanted to require both students and staff to wear masks, at least temporarily.

In a statement to News 8 Now, Aldersen wrote:

“The Board continues to engage stakeholders when making difficult decisions that involve a range of perspectives. In response to monitoring data in the elementary school, the Board convened to discuss current illness, quarantine, and student absence information. The Board continues to recommend the use of a face covering in district buildings.”

Cina, who attended Sunday’s meeting, said, “Board members voted in line with their personal convictions, and to me their personal convictions don’t align with their mission, which starts with keeping our children safe.”

A handful of parents at the meeting spoke against masks, Cina said, while she and one other parent were pressed for a mask requirement. The meeting attendance did not reflect the survey results.

“I think that probably a lot of parents felt that their voices would have been heard through that survey, and that the district would’ve supported that in their vote,” Cina said.

Cina also said she believes some of the most outspoken mask critics don’t live in the Cashton district and open-enrolled this year because of the district’s mask-optional policy.

“It’s not their neighbors who are dying — it’s mine,” she said. “It’s not their community members who are stuck in hospitals or have empty chairs at Christmas this year — it’s mine.”

The school board has voted to keep masks optional so far this school year, but Cina wants the board to reconsider.

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