WEST ALLIS, Wisc. — Masks are no longer required at the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, the board decided Monday night.
A crowd of parents demonstrated outside the district offices voicing their support for a masks optional vote.
"Enough is enough," said parent Devon Ray. "We want them gone or want them to be optional. We're not trying to make decisions for other people's kids. We want to make decisions for our kids."
Ray and dozens of others spoke out to the board at the meeting Monday.
- The Rebound Milwaukee: Resources For Getting Back To Normal
- We're Open: These Restaurants Are Still Offering Carryout And Delivery
"Do any of you like wearing these masks?" one speaker said. The room responded, "No."
One person thanked the board for how they handled the pandemic, noting how he told the board back in the fall he wanted to keep masks in place until kids could get vaccinated.
"It may surprise people here, I'm actually in support of the mask optional plan as it is written," the speaker said.
The board then discussed. The original recommendation was to make masks optional on March 7 after first dropping the quarantine requirement for close contacts without symptoms.
"I don't think that dropping both things at once. We don't know whether one is going to impact the other," said board member Brendan Burns.
Instead, the board voted for masks optional immediately. It also voted to immediately to drop the quarantine requirement for close contacts without symptoms. If a school hits a 3 percent COVID-19 positivity rate, masks will be required again.
Six members voted in favor. Two members, including the board president, voted no. One member was absent.
School officials say the district's current COVID-19 positivity rate is 0.1 percent, and 22 students and staff are in quarantine.
"After listening to this, watching people cry, and watching some of the emotions, I think we are all emotional," said board member Amy Deal. "We are all emotional. We all want what's best for our kids."
"I'm glad they finally heard us," Ray said.
State data shows close to 250,000 kids have tested positive since the start of the pandemic, and ten people ages 19 and younger have died.
According to the West Allis & West Milwaukee Health Department, more than half of its residents have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.
The CDC recommends universal masking in schools, according to its website.