Majority of surveyed rural Wisconsin schools say masks not mandated, lean to reopening in fall

Logan Wroge:

A majority of rural Wisconsin school districts surveyed earlier this summer said they wouldn’t require students and staff to wear face masks and are leaning toward reopening school buildings in some capacity for the fall.

The Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance sent a survey to the organization’s 157 members in June to gauge what the school districts were planning for the new school year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Kim Kaukl, executive director of the organization.

Seventy rural school districts the Alliance represents responded. Wisconsin has 421 school districts.

“In talking with my (superintendents) and looking at the results, I think there’s so much uncertainty right now,” Kaukl said. “I think everybody understands face-to-face is the best, but we also have to look at the health and safety for our students, our staff and our parents. That really puts a lot of our folks in a quandary.”

Kaukl cautioned plans within the districts could have changed since they responded to the survey, especially because the bulk of responses were returned between mid-June and early July, when positive coronavirus cases in Wisconsin began to grow.