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With some exceptions, Marshall schools will require masks through January

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Masks will be required inside Marshall school buildings at least through Jan. 21, with some exceptions.

The Marshall School Board voted unanimously on Nov. 17 in favor of continuing to require that, following the expected sunset of Dane County’s mask order on Nov. 27.

That expected expiration of the county mask order would leave up to local school districts, including Marshall, to whether to continue requiring mask.

The recommendations from Superintendent Dan Grady, that the school board considered on Nov. 17, was multi-faceted. Its three pieces include:

• All staff and students in early childhood through grade six must wear masks in district buildings, including after school hours, through Jan. 21

• All and students in grades 7 through 12 must wear masks in district buildings, unless they are participating in strenuous athletic activity after school, through Jan. 21.

• Masks will be recommended – but not required --

for spectators at athletic events and other after-school activities, through Nov. 21.

Grady and school board members admitted they are concerned about policing mask-wearing among spectators athletic events. That will be “difficult,” Grady said. “Who would be tasked (to enforce) it if the board were to require it?”

At a recent girls basketball game, Grady said while all spectators were technically masked, his best estimate was that a quarter of them weren’t wearing their masks properly.

“Probably a fourth were showing their nose for a significant time,” he said.

“No one wants to have continued confrontations,” school board member Heather Herschleb said, adding that “it would be asking a lot of our staff,” to have to do the policing.

That made a mask recommendation, rather than a mandate, more palpable in her mind, Herschleb said.

“That might be a better choice,” she said.

“I don’t think we’d be able to enforce it. I think recommending would be better,” agreed board President Debbie Frigo.

The primary responsibility of district staff “I think our responsibility is to the teachers and the students during the school day,” Frigo continued.

There have been contentious debates over masking, especially in schools across the country and in neighboring districts.

School board members said they’ve appreciated how accepting Marshall has been of the school mandates in place up until now.

“This is a very hot topic, and the way that our community has handled it, one side or the other, has been absolutely incredible,” board member Staci Abrahamson said.

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