MMSD extends masking requirement; district to re-evaluate status every two weeks

MADISON, Wis. — Students will continue to be required to wear masks in Madison school district buildings, according to the latest guidance from Madison Metropolitan School District officials.

District spokesperson Tim LeMonds said in a statement Friday that the district decided to extend its masking precautions because of rising COVID-19 cases in Dane County.

The move follows “the unanimous recommendation from [the district’s] team of medical advisors to extend its requirement to wear masks inside school buildings, while continuing to monitor local COVID-19 conditions and reviewing its indoor masking requirement on a bi-weekly basis,” LeMonds wrote.

“In addition to the district’s goal of keeping schools open and students learning safely in person among reasons for the extension, it also cited the current and sustained upward trend in positive COVID cases locally and concern over the potential impact it may have on district staffing levels,” he continued.

Decisions about whether to require masks at high school graduation ceremonies will come “in the upcoming weeks,” the district said.

In an update shared Friday morning, Public Health Madison & Dane County officials said the county is averaging 246 new cases per day, which health officials attribute to new Omicron subvariants. On average, Dane County’s case rate so far in 2022 is 1.7 times higher than Wisconsin’s — but that almost exactly mirrors how much higher Dane County’s testing rate is than the state’s, at 1.6 times the average of the rest of Wisconsin.

RELATED: MMSD extends mask mandate to May

In mid-April, the district announced masking would still be required until May, citing a moderate increase in COVID-19 cases throughout Dane County as a factor that led to the decision. The county’s mask mandate expired on March 1.

That same month, the district loosened some of its COVID-19 guidelines related to students gathering indoors and during recess. The district also allowed field trips and large events like proms and graduations to resume on March 15.

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