SHEBOYGAN — After the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) backpedaled on its mask recommendations for K-12 schools on Sunday, the Sheboygan Area School District held a special board meeting Monday night to address its mask policy.

The meeting was open to public forum, as it always is, and nearly 30 individuals addressed the board both in favor of masking and against it. With words such as "segregation" and "bullying" being used, the board ultimately decided the best path forward for the remaining two weeks of school is to make a uniform policy.

The board voted 7-2 in favor of returning immediately to a policy requiring masks for all students and staff through the final day of school (June 8). Then on June 9, the district will adapt a policy where wearing masks can be optional, which would apply to all summer school and programming.

Here is a breakdown of the votes:

  • David Gallianetti - Aye
  • Kyle Whelton - Nay
  • Marcia Reinthaler - Aye
  • Mark Mancl - Aye
  • Kay K. Robbins - Aye
  • Susan Hein - Nay
  • Ryan Burg - Aye
  • Rebecca M. Versey - Aye
  • Santino Laster - Aye

This policy will go into effect Tuesday, May 18, and be in effect "until it needs to be addressed again." The board meets again next Tuesday.

The first motion by Mancl was to make masks optional effective immediately. However, an 8-1 supported amendment by Burg made the option effective after the last day of school and struck down the school's existing policy stating those vaccinated are not required to mask up.

How we got here

On Friday, May 14, Superintendent Seth Harvatine sent out district-wide communication following the CDC's Thursday guideline that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a mask.

This came on the heels of the CDC's guidance that those fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks in public.

"To remain consistent with CDC guidance, students and staff that have been fully vaccinated will no longer need to wear masks inside or outside of school," the district letter states.

Beginning Monday, May 17, the district had the following guidelines for different age groups:

  • Staff and students age 16 and older — Students ages 16 and up who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear a mask while at school
  • Students under 16 — Students under the age of 16 will need to remain masked until fully vaccinated. The earliest this can occur is June 17.
  • Buses — Staff and students will continue to be masked on buses

The letter stated that the district does reserve the right to request proof of vaccination from students who are not wearing a mask, and it recommended that students take a photo of their vaccination card on their phone for ease of access. Harvatine explained that the district's legal counsel said this does not violate FERPA or HIPAA. Due to practicality, Harvatine said this system would mostly be operating on the "honor system."

On Sunday, May 16,  the CDC then released further clarification that they are still recommending schools to include mask-wearing and distancing for the remainder of the school year since those under age 15 are not yet able to be vaccinated. 

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