COLEMAN, Wis. (WFRV) — Parents in the Coleman School district are split following a 5-2 school board decision ending the district’s mandate.
“A school board is not made up of people that really know what to do in this situation, and they should be following the guidelines of experts,” parent Aaron Clark said, “and in this case, they’re not.”
Parent Mary Rosner says that her son only recently returned to in-person learning.
“We actually had our son just come back from virtual learning two weeks ago because we felt that the school district was a safe environment for him,” she said, “and now we’re really torn.”
Students will finish out the remainder of this week wearing masks.
Come Monday, they won’t be required.
“Kids learn better when they’re around kids their own age,” Rosner said. “They’re happier, they do better socially. It’s just so important for their own mental health, and I really have a concern that we’re taking a step backward here.”
The district’s Superintendent, along with the President of the Coleman Education Association released a joint statement on the decision by the school board:
“Consistent with the School District of Coleman’s Reopening Plan adopted in August 2020, the Board of Education, not the administration, had the sole authority to repeal the mask requirement. The Board exercised that authority on Monday, April 19, with a 5-2 vote. The District will continue to perform rigorous contact tracing, monitor the health and symptoms of our students, staff, parents, and the community for COVID-19, and take the appropriate follow-up actions to ensure the safety of the entire Coleman School District community. “Joint Statement from Douglas Polomis, District Administrator, and Sarah Thomas, President of the Coleman Education Association
Sarah Thomas spoke with Local 5 about her concerns as a teacher, “Other than student safety, I’m also concerned about the school having to close, being forced to close. I like to be in front of my students, I like to teach in person, we’ve been able to do that this whole school year.”
About 700 students attend class inside the Coleman School District Building.
Most of those students are not yet 16, and not eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.
“So now we’re going to take away our mask, which is another layer of protection against Covid,” Rosner said, “which is actively spreading in our community. I’ve done hundreds of calls and talked to many, many people in contact tracing.”
Rosner works as a Public Health Nurse for Oconto County.
With the pandemic ongoing, she and parents are questioning the decision.
“We need consistency,” Rosner said. “We need predictability, especially in a school year like we’ve experienced this year so far. 32 days left in the school year, and this is the decision that was made by our board.”
Clark expressed frustration with the decision.
“They dismissed science, they dismissed a lot of common sense, quite honestly, and it seems that it was political,” he said.
Local 5 reached out to all five board members who voted to repeal the rule.
As of the publishing of this article, none of the 5 board members have agreed to speak on the record about the decision.
With less than a week until the masks come off, teachers are coming to terms with the new reality.
“I’m going to try to keep my students separate, I’m going to try to get out as much as possible and do my teaching outdoors, I’m going to make sure that they’re treating each other respectfully,” Thomas sasid.
Parents can chose to make the switch to fully virtual learning if they’re not comfortable with the repeal of the district’s mask requirement.