MENOMONEE FALLS — A Menomonee Falls elementary school is dealing with a coronavirus outbreak after ten students tested positive for the virus this week.
The school district’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 85 students at Benjamin Franklin School are in quarantine. The school’s principal says the outbreak is hitting one kindergarten room in particular.
The outbreak comes as no surprise for parent Shauna Gallenberg just two weeks into the new school year.
“I think that’s kind of to be expected with this new variant and such,” she said.
District-wide data shows 23 students currently have positive cases and 184 are at home in quarantine. Nearly half of those are at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School.
After hearing about the spread, Gallenberg says she’s starting to have her young daughter wear a mask in the classroom. The district made masks optional for this school year and Gallenberg doesn’t think that should change.
“I still think it should be up to the parents, I still believe in that choice,” she said.
Joseph Piorkowski has three kids in the Cedarburg School District where masks are also optional. Piorkowski is worried his sons could be at risk of serious illness since they have asthma.
“Right now, I basically feel that they are not remembering that they need to represent everyone in the community and not just people that are in alignment with their political beliefs,” he said.
Piorkowski wants the district to offer accommodations for students who don’t feel safe.
“I do think that they need to require masks, and if they feel that there is not enough support for that to happen, I know there are other school districts in the area that have created classrooms that are mask only and then they have other classrooms that don’t require masks,” he said.
Dr. Kevin Dahlman is the Medical Director at Aurora Children’s Health.
“Thankfully, we’re not seeing the younger kids very severely affected, but they’re certainly passing it around and they’re passing it around very quickly - like wildfire,” Dr. Dahlman said.
The pediatrician says he tells all parents they should have their kids in masks whenever they’re in the classroom.
“If you’re fully masked, then we’re going to have fewer cases, means fewer quarantines, means we can keep teaching staff in place so we can actually have school in person,” he said.
Dr. Dahlman says another layer of protection is on the way for kids. Pfizer is inching toward receiving emergency use authorization for younger children to get vaccinated.
“This would be a really nice niche to fill because this covers the grade school kids all the way through halfway through middle school,” he said.
The Menomonee Falls School District emailed parents Tuesday night reminding them that their most important mitigation measure is to not have sick students in school. Parents are asked to monitor symptoms and to keep kids home if they are not feeling well.
Menomonee Falls Schools Superintendent Corey Golla mentioned in a video posted online Wednesday the possibility of a mask mandate that would need to be approved by the school board.