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Local schools adjust mask requirements following CDC's revised COVID guidelines

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Most of the Northwoods has low levels of COVID-19, according to the CDC’s revised COVID metrics. That means masking is no longer strongly recommended in many counties.

Last week, the CDC’s COVID-19 transmission map painted much of northern Wisconsin in red.

The color came with a strong recommendation that residents wear tightly fitted masks in public indoor spaces.

But on Friday, the map changed.

Now, counties across northern Wisconsin are colored green. It’s a reflection of the CDC’s relaxed masking guidance based on conditions at local hospitals.

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
COVID-19 community levels by county in Wisconsin as of Feb. 24

The CDC’s map shows Oneida, Vilas, Iron, Forest and Price counties all with low COVID community levels, so the CDC no longer recommends people in those areas don a mask.

That includes students in schools.

Previously, the CDC recommended universal masking in classrooms and mandated masks on school buses.

Now, that’s no longer the case, and local school districts are taking note.

Kevin Genisot is the district administrator for Hurley Schools, which as of Monday, no longer require masks on buses.

“To us it makes little sense to say kids need to wear a mask on the bus, but then when you’re here all day for seven hours, you don’t need to wear one,” Genisot says. “It should be consistent and that’s one of the things we’ve tried to do since this pandemic started, is make the most reasonable decisions and make it consistent.”

Genisot says the decision to remove the mask requirement is a step in line with the school’s previous decisions on COVID policies.

“You have to continually move forward in the most reasonable manner possible, and that’s what our board has elected to do,” he says. “What’s the most reasonable way to keep kids in school?”

The Chequamegon and Three Lakes School Districts will also no longer require masks on school transportation.

However, not all schools in the area are advised to take the same steps.

The CDC’s current map shows Lincoln, Marathon and Florence counties seeing high levels of COVID.

That means masking is still recommended in indoor public spaces in those counties.

The CDC recommends all people, regardless of COVID community levels, get vaccinated for the best protection against the virus.

Erin Gottsacker joined WXPR in December 2020. As a morning edition host and reporter, Erin reports on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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