River Falls school board makes face masks optional

Posted February 28, 2022

The River Falls School Board has enacted an optional face mask policy starting Monday, Feb. 28.

Superintendent Jamie Benson spoke on the policy change during the board’s Feb. 21 meeting.

“We will go to an optional mask policy starting next Monday, the 28th. Reasons for that are that COVID cases, particularly the most recent with the Omicron, are on a steady decline,” he said. “This was our intention. We wanted to stay the course with the plan that was laid out.”

Benson said weekly memos were sent home the last few weeks to students and parents laying out intentions to enact the policy.

“We wanted to give a heads up to those that maybe would not be comfortable with the optional mask policy, to have time to consider whether they wanted to choose to either home school or enroll in our virtual school.”

The policy was passed with a 7-0 vote. The motion was met with public comments during the hearing period from a parent and a River Falls High School senior.

“Thank you for finally putting this back in the hands of the parents where it belongs,” a woman who identified herself as a parent told the board. “I hope that we are never in this position again, where you take the control away from us (parents).”

River Falls High School senior Evelyn Flasch also made a statement to the board.

“The school cannot mitigate what you (students and faculty) do outside of school. But what the school can do is prevent possible transmission from student to student in school,” she said.

Flasch stated the need for masking in schools, citing her work at a local nursing home.

“Yes, our (students) age group is the least likely to have adverse reactions, but we are also the most likely to carry COVID to those who are in an unsafe position.”

In an interview after the meeting, Flasch continued to voice her concern.

“A lot of my friends have immune compromised family members,” she stated. “I’m not trying to fear monger, but I think the little things we can do to protect people we care about is important.”

According to the Pierce County Department of Health, new and probable COVID-19 cases have declined from 746 during the week of Jan. 15, to 149 during the week of Feb. 12. According to the same department, 56% of Pierce County residents have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In other business, the board: