FORT ATKINSON — Positive COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Jefferson County, and health officials say schools are the main reason they're seeing this increase.
"It is very important for us to control the spread of the virus, and that simply isn't happening right now as a direct result of schools," said Samroz Jakvani.
Jakvani, an epidemiologist for the Jefferson County Health Department, says COVID-19 cases in the area are climbing. He says it's due to school districts in the county not requiring masks be worn for students or staff.
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"The decision-making authority is in the hands of school boards of education who are really truly recklessly ignoring public health guidance right now," said Jakvani.
The Fort Atkinson School District voted to pass a mask mandate Thursday night. The mandate will remain in effect until at least the next board meeting on Oct. 26, when the board will reassess the mandate.
"The Fort Atkinson school district is where we have the highest number of outbreaks. They've had over 20 positive cases just this week alone, and many of the students were in school while contagious without masks, spreading it to others in their classrooms," said Jakvani said before the vote.
Jakvani warns that if mask mandates aren't enforced within Fort Atkinson and surrounding districts soon, positive COVID-19 cases will continue to skyrocket.
"They are choosing to ignore the reality on the ground. They are choosing to ignore the state of the pandemic in Jefferson County right now," said Jakvani.
TMJ4 News reached out to the Fort Atkinson school board president for a comment regarding the health department's claims, but we have not heard back.