Hustisford might be an example other districts should emulate.
Medical experts in the United States have been increasingly vocal in their support of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially in schools. Classrooms are indoors and full of children who may not be able to maintain adequate social distance, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics has called universal face coverings — for all students, staff and teachers — “ideal.”
And, masks seem to be working in the Hustisford School District, according to board President John Bohonek.
He relayed a conversation he had with a parent, who early during the school year was not in favor of children wearing masks, but has since agreed with him on their importance in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
“We haven’t closed our doors yet,” he said, “because we’re wearing masks all the time here.”
Hustisford Schools Superintendent Heather Cramer said she heard the same from another parent.
“The administration, teachers and staff want the kids here,” Cramer said. “You won’t hear us say anything different. We want them here and they want to be here.”
Cramer said she is working closely with other Dodge County school superintendents and the Dodge County Health Department to discuss how each district is progressing amidst the coronavirus.
“These calls help us to gauge COVID-19 infection rates in each district and community,” she said. “As a Dodge County schools superintendent group, we are truly a team in this effort and we rely on each other often for guidance.”
Cramer said her school district has encountered several quarantines of students and staff and also worked through several positive cases at the junior and senior high school and one at John Hustis Elementary. She said the district is now responsible for all of their own contact tracing. Cramer said the county is not assisting her district in relation to school-related close contacts.
“Families are being directly contacted by the school in regards to quarantine procedures,” she said. “As a district, we now have have access to the department of health test site to track tests that students have taken. That is a great tool to help us remain on top of the tests that are happening within our student body.”
She said the district has one goal and that is to keep the students in the classrooms and the athletes on the court and the mat.
Cramer said regardless of what happens with the state’s masks mandate, the district will continue to have its administration, teachers, staff and, more importantly, the students continue to wear masks.
“I don’t think the children think of the masks anymore (like they once did at the beginning of the school year),” said David Strysick, board member. “They put them on and go to school.”
Hustisford School Board Clerk Tracy Malterer said if children need a break from wearing their masks, they should be given one. The school board agreed and said they will continue to revisit their own mask mandate at each board meeting.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court weighed Monday whether Gov. Tony Evers exceeded his authority by issuing a statewide mask mandate after his original public health emergency related to the pandemic had expired, a move that opponents said was illegal.
Evers said he can issue multiple health emergencies, even though state law limits them to 60 days, because of the changing threat caused by the pandemic. But those challenging the mask mandate argued that Evers is only allowed to issue one 60-day health emergency for the same pandemic and only the Legislature can extend it.
The Supreme Court held virtual arguments on Monday and took the case under advisement. It likely won’t issue a ruling for several weeks.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court in May struck down Evers’ “Safer at Home” order, ruling that his administration overstepped its authority when it extended the order without consulting lawmakers.
The court was controlled 5-2 by conservatives when it issued that order. But that margin is now 4-3, and one of the conservatives, Justice Brian Hagedorn, sided with liberals in May in wanting to uphold the “Safer at Home” order.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.