MILWAUKEE — After more than two years, Milwaukee Public Schools is now making masks optional for students and staff.
Maryland Avenue Montessori 8th grader Thaddeaus Hilliard woke up Tuesday morning, and said things just felt different.
"It definitely feels good," Hilliard laughed. "It was like exonerating being able to not wear a mask."
While the excitement was there not to wear masks anymore, he still felt conflicted, so he brought one just in case.
Walking the halls of Maryland Avenue Montessori, and even going into classrooms, you can see some kids are wearing masks while others are not.
Madeline Martin is parent to three kids and said she took a different approach.
"My kids have gotten their vaccinations," Martin said. "So, I'm letting them decide what they want to do."
While masks are now optional inside MPS school buildings, the same COVID mitigation efforts are still in place, such as sanitation stations.
"We maintain physical distancing with the students in the classroom," said Joe DiCarlo, Maryland Avenue Montessori School.
That's one of several different strategies.
As part of the plan, MPS will continue to offer vaccine clinics, expand its COVID-19 testing options, monitor clusters of cases and there's a threshold already determined.
"At this time, a 1.5% positivity rate per school will then reinstate the mask mandate for 10 days," DiCarlo stated.
As a mother, Martin said this plan is reassuring in order to keep students in the classroom.
"If we have to go back to wearing masks for a little while to keep people healthy, that's how we're gonna keep kids in school," she said.
MPS administration can reinstate mask requirements if COVID cases surge again. Any decision requires input from several entities including the health department and the teachers union.