The Milton School District has decided to lighten the burden of mask wearing ever so slightly.
The change affects only certain outdoor school activities. Students, staff and visitors still must wear masks indoors, according to a memo sent to parents Friday.
Students who are outdoors for recess, playground use or physical education classes are allowed to remove their masks. The district recommends physical distancing when not wearing a mask, but distancing is not required, according to a memo from Superintendent Richard Dahman.
School staff members working outdoors will be required to wear a face covering whenever they are within 6 feet of another person.
Parents should tell their children what the parents’ mask rules are for recess, playground and physical education classes, Dahman wrote.
Spectators at outdoor events who are fully vaccinated can watch such events without masks, Dahman wrote.
Dahman said no other changes will be made through the end of the school year, and any changes for summer school will be announced to parents before June 1.
The change largely follows a Rock County Public Health Department memo to school officials Friday.
The department on Friday lifted its mask recommendations for adults in many situations but said restrictions should remain in schools. It listed these reasons:
- Only 9.3% of children ages 16-17 have completed their COVID-19 vaccinations, and 21.7% have had a first dose.
- Federal authorities last week lowered the vaccination age from 16 to 12, but it will still take five weeks for the first of these children become fully vaccinated.
- Children younger than 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
- Positive cases of COVID-19 and quarantine of close contacts continue in most schools in the county.
The health department still recommends outdoor physical distancing at schools.
Janesville schools have always allowed students to remove masks for outdoor school activities, spokesman Patrick Gasper said.
COVID-19 rules for Milton’s upcoming prom and graduation will be announced later this week, Dahman said.
Changes in COVID-19 rules for next school year will be announced during the summer.
The health department memo praises schools for their contagion-preventing efforts and adds:
“As we work toward achieving much higher rates of vaccination of our school-aged populations, we must be vigilant in efforts to continue implementing these protective measures that have been proven successful in our schools. This effort is important to keep our children and their families safe and preserve the ability to keep students and staff in-person as much as possible.”