The Ripon Area School District (RASD) is requiring staff and students at Ripon High School to wear masks indoors in response to rising COVID-19 cases in the Ripon-area.
The new masking requirement took effect today (Friday) and will stay in effect through Friday, Sept. 24, according to an email sent to families Thursday.
“This temporary change is based on the number of positive COVID cases and the number of students experiencing COVID-like symptoms,” RASD told parents. “... This temporary mask change does not apply to after-school events or spectators.”
The Fond du Lac County Health Department categorized COVID-19 activity in the Ripon Area School District boundary as “very high” in its Sept. 7 report, which examined data from Aug. 23 to Sept. 5. That data accounts for the total population within the district boundary, not exclusively within RASD facilities.
The district is making masks available to any students or staff who need one. Students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are asked to be tested as the district offers on-site COVID-19 tests.
COVID-19 symptoms include sore throat, congestion or runny nose, fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
In addition, homecoming activities planned for Sept. 24 and the homecoming dance on September 25 will move forward as planned, according to RASD.
During a School Board meeting last month, officials framed potential mask mandates at individual schools as a necessary measure to avoid pivoting to virtual learning when COVID-19 cases began to rise.
"The RASD Safe Return to Universal In-Person Learning 2021-2022 plan ... is based on the belief that in-person learning is the optimal environment for student academic success and social-emotional growth and includes impactful mitigation measures, while also allowing for a significant return to normal," the district said in its email to parents.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services are recommending School Districts make masks mandatory indoors to limit the spread of COVID-19.
In addition, the Delta variant has proven to cause more severe medical complications for children than strains that dominated the United States last school year, which has resulted in increased hospitalizations among children nationwide, according to the Associated Press.
According to the Green Lake County Health Department, masking helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 by preventing respiratory droplets from spreading in the air.
“We need to slow the spread of the Delta variant and masking is one way to do this,” Green Lake County Health Officer Rachel Prellwitz said last month. “We encourage schools to take a layered strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst students and staff."
This story will be updated with comments from district officials. Check the Sept. 16 issue of the Ripon Commonwealth Press for the full story, or visit www.riponpress.com next week.