Rising COVID-19 rate spurs La Crosse School District to restore mask requirements

La Crosse Schools 2

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The La Crosse School District is restoring mask requirements in schools because of increases in COVID-19 rates, Superintendent Aaron Engel said Tuesday in a message to parents.

With Tuesday’s case rate at 7.40, Engel wrote, “Even if we had zero cases the next two days, our average will still be above 1.0, so we will be wearing masks next week as well.”

The superintendent cited local, state and national data indicating that the spreading Delta variant of COVID-19 will continue to elevate case rates in the district.

“The Delta variant is spread more easily and can be spread by those who have been vaccinated,” Engel said. “However, for those that have been vaccinated rates of illness and hospitalization are significantly reduced.”

The district, which had made masks optional last month because COVID-19 rates seemed to be in check, is taking precautions to ensure that students continue to have access to in-person learning while avoiding quarantines of staff and students as the traditional school year approaches, he wrote.

Next week students will continue to wear masks indoors in grades 4K-7 and maintain 3 feet of physical distance where possible, he said.

All staffers will wear masks when they are inside with students and anytime staff members gather in groups of more than 10.

“We also want to protect each other, remain learning in person, and keep our extra-curricular activities going so we are strongly recommending all students in grades 8-12 wear masks when indoors regardless of vaccination status,” Engel wrote.

Acknowledging that wearing masks inconveniences some people, while others object to masks for political or other reasons, the district feels the need to require masks to protect students who cannot be vaccinated yet, he wrote.

“The number one way you can help us eliminate mask requirements is by getting vaccinated. Please consider doing so if you have not already,” Engel wrote.