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Waunakee parents divided on mask-optional policy as summer school starts

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WAUNAKEE (WKOW) -- For the first time since early 2020, students in Waunakee had the option to not wear a mask in the classroom Monday.

The Waunakee Community School District started summer school one week after the Board of Education voted to make masks optional for all students.

Some parents, like Tiffany Schultz, support the board's decision.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," she said. "I think it's great for the families to have a choice. Not every child can wear a mask, not every child can learn with a mask."

Schultz has a child about to start first grade and a child about to start fourth grade. She said their family decided to not wear masks at school anymore.

"It comes down to personal choice what you're the most comfortable with," she said. "I feel very comfortable sending my children without a mask."

But other Waunakee parents don't feel comfortable enough for their kids to not wear masks.

Meghan Durst started a petition asking the school board to change the mask policy again and require masks for kindergarten through sixth grade until younger students are able to get vaccinated.

Right now, there are only vaccines approved in the U.S. for children 12 years and older.

As of Monday evening, 128 people have signed the petition.

One of the parents unhappy the district moved to a mask-optional policy is Elizabeth Hansen.

Her kids were supposed to start summer school on Monday, but Hansen pulled them after the board changed the policy.

"The pandemic is not over for those who cannot be vaccinated yet," she said. "The parents and guardians who protect these young children need to stay as vigilant as ever. … Parents should be advocating that these institutions such as schools do whatever they can to keep our kids safe, and masking is a proven strategy for all groups of people to protect themselves from COVID-19."

Schultz said she doesn't feel the need to wait for a vaccine for kids because she's comfortable enough with the risk level now.

"There's not a right answer for everybody," she said. "There's not a perfect solution. The risk isn't zero, but the risk isn't zero for anything else either."

There is also a petition supporting the Board of Education's decision to make masks optional.

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Caroline Dade

Weekend Evening Anchor/Reporter, 27 News

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