Masks to be optional in La Crosse School District Starting July 1, superintendent announces

(Associated Press)

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Wearing masks will be optional for all students and all activities while they are at school in the La Crosse School District, according to Superintendent Aaron Engel.
The relaxed regulation, which covers activities indoors and out, is possible because of “a drastic decline in COVID-19 cases in our community,” Engel wrote in a message sent Thursday to parents, guardians and others.
“Over the last seven days, there have been 0.2 registered cases of COVID-19 per 100k people per day in our school district boundaries as reported at the DHS (Wisconsin Department of Health Services) website,” Engel wrote. “This is wonderful news both from a health perspective for our community and for the safety of students in our school district.”
The decision follows recommendations from DHS, the Harvard Global Health Institute, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the La Crosse County Health Department.
Engel cited the Health Institute’s benchmarks of a case rate of less than one case a day for each 100,000 population as the basis for the decision.
That rate will govern mask decisions, although masks will be optional for high school students regardless of the rate, the superintendent wrote.
“If we are above that threshold or have outbreaks, we will implement mitigation strategies like masks and social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19,” he wrote.
If conditions remain below that threshold, though, masks and social distancing will be optional, Engel wrote, adding that parents also have a hand in the decision.
“We recognize and support families who choose to have their child continue to wear a mask at this time,” he wrote.
Engel noted the need to be vigilant heading into fall, writing, “Please do not throw away your masks yet! There is likely to be a resurgence of COVID-19 this fall, as usually happens with influenza. We still do not have vaccines available for children under age 12. There are more contagious variants present in our area, and we will likely have outbreaks from time to time.”