Local businesses and schools look to change mask policies after CDC eases guidelines

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — With the new CDC guidance on mask-wearing, La Crosse County’s Health Advisory regarding masks is ending.

County health leaders no longer are recommending people wear face coverings in public, enclosed spaces — leaving a tough decision for downtown businesses.

“Some of our businesses have removed the required signs,” said Downtown Mainstreet Director Laurie Cafe. “Some of them have changed it too encouraged and some of them have kept the required sign. So over the next couple of weeks, you’ll probably see some things figure out a little further.”

Some businesses are waiting for any policy changes to come from the top-down, while others already have taken down the signs.

However, the La Crosse County Health Department recommended that K-12 schools continue to mask, as most students are still not vaccinated.

La Crosse School District Superintendent Aaron Jones announced that the district will require masks through the rest of the school year, a decision echoed by Winona Area Public Schools Superintendent Annette K. Freiheit echoed for her district.

UW-La Crosse tried to offer as many in-person classes as it could this last year. The UW Systemhopes to do that again again next year, with no masks.

“I want students to be vaccinated so when they come back in the fall they don’t have to wear a mask and that they can come into class and be able to get the attention from the faculty, the students, and learn,” said UW System Interim  President Tommy Thompson.

Thompson said students were great when having to adapt to wearing masks, so he expects the same when trying to get rid of them.

“I would like to get to 70 to 80 percent of students to get vaccinated. I think we can. They were fantastic about masking up and accepting the rules last year. 100% of them did,” Thompson said.