CEDARBURG — Masks are optional at schools in Cedarburg this fall, but dozens of parents now say they want them required, given the threat of the delta variant.
"They thought that a vaccine would be available to all school-age kids by the end of summer, and obviously that’s not going to happen," said parent Matt McManus.
McManus and his wife, Suzy, are the parents of two Cedarburg students. Matt, Suzy and their son are vaccinated, but their daughter is too young.
"We’re very concerned," Suzy said. "And our county here, I believe our burden is high."
The CDC suggests schools require masks for everyone.
Cedarburg's plan says masks are optional. Positive cases must be isolated, and quarantining is optional for those who come in close contact. A virtual option is available to those who apply for a medical exemption.
"We will and most likely need to pivot, either increasing our mitigation measures or decreasing," said Cedarburg School District Superintendent Todd Bugnacki during Wednesday's meeting. "We were all hoping, I think as a community, as a state, a nation, that we would not be here, but we are here. And what we have demonstrated in Cedarburg is that we can pivot and we will pivot as needed to ensure that we continue to provide access, quality and safety to all our students."
One board member said they have received a lot of concerned emails from parents of students who are not old enough to get vaccinated.
"Let's make sure that we’re paying close attention, especially to that age group, knowing that they don’t have access to vaccinations," said board member Kristin Padberg.
Suzy McManus started a petition asking for the district to survey families about what COVID-19 safeguards they want in place. As of Wednesday night, the petition had more than 250 signatures.
Suzy and Matt added they haven't been able to speak in person in front of the school board about their concerns, because the meeting notice states public comment is limited to a specific agenda item.
Other parents expressed their frustration about this at a meeting Wednesday night.
"What am I supposed to do if you continue this trend of not allowing the community to tell you what our concerns are?" said parent Jessie Mchomvu. "We can email you and we can call you, but we get the same generic response."
The school board president responded to TMJ4 in an email late Wednesday, writing, "The subject of the mitigation plan was not an action item on tonight’s meeting a brief update was given by the superintendent but nothing substantive has changed since it was discussed at previous meetings. We receive calls and emails on a daily basis from constituents on the plan and other items and read all the suggestions and opinions on the subject. We will continue to review their email as we track internal and external data. We excited to have our students back in our classrooms to start a new school year."
Cedarburg's first day of school is Sept. 1.