Students in the Milton School District will soon have a choice on whether to mask up.
The Milton School Board on Monday approved a change from universal masking to recommended masking. The board also approved a change to contact tracing protocols. The district will no longer conduct universal contact tracing when notified of a positive COVID-19 case.
Both changes passed unanimously and will go into effect at 4 p.m. today.
There are a few exceptions to the new changes. Asymptomatic students and staff who decide to return on day six of their isolation period are required to wear face masks until the 10th day of that period, Superintendent Rich Dahman said. On day 11, the individual may choose to continue or discontinue mask wearing.
The other exception is that all students and staff must still wear masks on public transportation, per a federal mandate.
Before debate on the masking change began, Dahman noted that the number of new positive COVID-19 cases has decreased and that the wave of cases driven by the omicron virus variant appeared to have peaked.
After Dahman introduced his motion, there was a discussion with some questions.
Board member Leslie Hubert asked Dahman why the change would go into effect at 4 p.m. Tuesday and why the new change was dubbed “recommended masking” instead of “mask choice.”
Dahman said he thinks it is important to give staff and families notice before changes are made and to give them time to discuss whether they want to continue to have their children mask at school.
Dahman also explained the reasoning behind the label “recommended masking.”
“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 added his input on this point, as well.
“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 moved to amend the motion so the change would be implemented immediately, but it died after there was no second by another board member.