Milwaukee County’s Public Health Officers Recommend Universal Masking in Schools
As Delta variant cases surge, data shows fourteen-fold increase in cases among children

MILWAUKEE – (August 5, 2021) – As school boards meet and prepare for the 2021-22 school year, local health department officials in Milwaukee County unanimously recommend the implementation of universal masking requirements for teachers, staff, students and visitors in K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. This recommendation is in alignment with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and most recently the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).

Since the beginning of July, Milwaukee County has seen a 14-fold increase in COVID-19 cases among children under 18 years old. Because of this, local public health officials urge school boards to consider these facts and vote in alignment with the national and statewide back-to-school universal masking guidance to keep children safe and healthy. The Delta variant is highly transmissible and adding another layer of protection on top of vaccination is needed to stop the spread.

Given new evidence on the Delta variant, on July 9, the AAP updated its school guidance, recommending universal indoor masking and a layered approach to COVID-19 prevention strategies. This includes physical distancing, enhanced ventilation and hand washing heading into the fall.

On July 27, following suit with the AAP, the CDC updated its guidance, recommending universal masking in schools. A significant portion of the student population is not eligible to receive the vaccine, and masking is a proven tool in mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

On August 4, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) released its updated COVID-19 K-12 school outbreak guidance. This information comes at a critical time when Wisconsin is experiencing a steady increase in COVID-19 cases. The CDC now classifies Milwaukee County as having a high level of community transmission.

The local health officials supporting universal masking in schools include:

• City of Cudahy – Heather Puente, MPH

• City of Franklin – Lauren Gottlieb, MPH, CHES (interim)

• City of Greenfield – Darren Rausch, MS, CPH

• City of Milwaukee – Kirsten Johnson, MPH, CPH, CHES

• City of Oak Creek – Darcy DuBois, MPH

• City of Wauwatosa – Laura Stephens, MPH

• Village of Greendale/Hales Corners – Susan Shepeard, MSN, BSN, RN

• North Shore (Bayside, Brown Deer, Fox Point, Glendale, River Hills, Shorewood, and Whitefish Bay) – Kathleen Platt, BSN, RN

• South Milwaukee/St. Francis – Jackie Ove, MS, BSN, RN

• West Allis/West Milwaukee – Robert Leischow, MPH

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