Masks optional, Menomonee Falls parents say

Mad about the mandates, a group of protesters on Monday, May 24 called on the School District of Menomonee Falls to put an end to their mask policy despite CDC recommendations. 

The CDC recommends schools continue to use the current COVID-19 prevention strategies for the 2020-2021 school year, and that's the plan for Menomonee Falls schools, but a number of parents and community members are against it, holding signs and voicing their concerns ahead of a board meeting Monday night.

After a long year of masks and social distancing, vaccines and a decline in COVID-19 cases offer a glimmer of hope of a return to normalcy.

"Why wait? Why not now? said Elizabeth Nerbun. "Why not just let the kids breathe freely?"

Some parents like Nerbun are calling for children to be unmasked, supporting Monday's rally.

"All the parents should have a choice over our children, and it shouldn’t be up to a school board and that we are not anti-mask. We just want masks to be optional," said Nerbun. "We want to be heard, so that’s the biggest concern, and right now, we feel that the school board is not hearing us."

As the CDC issued new guidelines, many school boards reviewed their masking policies. In Menomonee Falls, district leaders said, "The mask requirement will continue through the end of the school year for SDMF students and staff" with "masks recommended, not required, after the 2020-21 school year."

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It's a decision Chris Byrnes, the co-lead of Menomonee Falls Action Team agrees with.  

"Our group has a lot of members that are immunocompromised, then have children under the age where they are able to be vaccinated and people that just don’t want to take a risk," said Byrnes.

Byrnes believes everyone has their right to an opinion but feels this is about safety.  

"We have to understand you’re not just doing this for ourselves," said Byrnes. "We all have to come together, and this has got to be a group effort to make sure we get past COVID-19."

A school district spokeswoman issued this statement following Monday's board meeting:

"There wasn’t any discussion or decision at the board meeting tonight about mask wearing. I’ve attached a link to our SDMF Forward Together web page which has an update that was shared with families on 5.21.21 regarding masks recommended, not required, for Falls Summer Academy. We will continue masks through the end of the school year, as recommended for schools by CDC and Waukesha County Health."