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Face Mask Mandate in Milton School District Becomes Optional

On Monday, Feb. 14, 2022, the Milton School Board had decided to change their stance on universal mask mandates to recommended masking. This means that it gives students in the Milton School District the choice to either mask up for classes or be completely mask-less. In addition, the school board had also approved a change with their contact tracing protocols as the district will no longer conduct universal contact tracing when notified with a positive COVID-19 case. Both of these decisions were unanimously approved and went into full effect on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.

         There are, however, a few exceptions to these new changes. According to the board, asymptomatic students and staff who willingly decide to return on day six of their isolation period are required to wear face masks until the 10th day of that period. Rich Dahman, the superintendent of the school board has said that on day eleven, the individual will have the choice to either wear a mask or come in completely mask-less. However, the other exception to this new rule is that all students and staff members must wear a mask on public transportation, as per a federal mandate.

         Dahman also noted that the number of new cases was decreasing and that the wave of virus cases from the Omicron variant appear to have peaked. This was noted before the debate of the masking change had begun. After Dahman had introduced his motion, he met his discussion motion with some follow-up questions. Board Member Leslie Hubert asked Dahman why the change would go into effect at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022 and why it was called “recommended masking” instead of “mask-choice”. He also thought that it was important that staff and families were given notices when these changes were to take place and give them time to discuss whether they wanted to continue the masking of their children in schools. He had also given his reasoning of naming it “recommended masking” with the following quote – “Why is it phrased as recommended masking? Because that’s what we’re going to be doing,” Dahman said. “Rather than having universal masking that we have in place, where it’s a requirement for everyone, it would be recommended that people mask but not required.” Board Member Rick Mullen had also quoted the following – “I’ve been encouraged by the county numbers and been even more encouraged by the district numbers,” Mullen said. “I just want to say that if this goes forward tonight, I want to remind people to remain diligent in their symptom checking before they come into work or school and also keep on recording those positive cases.”

         Hubert then followed up with an amendment of moving the motion in order to make sure that the change wouldn’t have taken place immediately. However, the amendment motion died as it wasn’t seconded by another Board Member.        

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