Sparta schools look to keep students learning in person with mask mandate

SPARTA, Wis. (WKBT)- Beginning Monday, students in the Sparta Area School District will be required to wear masks.

The school board passed a resolution Wednesday that also calls for teachers and staff to wear masks starting Friday.

As of Tuesday, 130 students and staff were in quarantine, and another 15 had confirmed cases of the virus.

Parents and community members are split over whether masks will prevent the spread of the virus.

Superintendent Amy Van Deuren wants students to be able to learn in person.

“The district’s goal is to keep students learning in person and in school,” Van Deuren said.

She says the majority of the students learn better in a classroom.

Van Deuren and the school board decided the best way to do that, was to listen to the health experts.

“The best way to do this according to the CDC, DHS, and our local health agencies, is for everyone to mask while being in school and indoors,” said Van Deuren.

Before the school board voted, parents and community members voiced their opinion.

“I propose this board operates more as an individual unit and reduces the amount of influence the Monroe County Health Department has over the board and school district. Their input is extremely vital but to the same extent, they were not elected to make decisions on the school matters, you were,” said one parent.

Others asked for help as they couldn’t afford for children or grandchildren to get sick,

“This is a matter of life and death to a lot of people. These kids spend time with other adults such as myself who have health problems. It increases our chances of getting sick,” said one grandparent.

Van Deuren knows this is a divisive issue, but says the district wants what’s best for students and staff.

“Sparta is a great community, this is a great school district, the pains that we are going through right now, are struggles that many communities across the state and across the country are going through, we are doing our best to keep the doors open moving forward in person,” said Van Deuren.

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