New Mask Policies Reveal District’s Response to COVID

Cole Tauscher and Frank Whiting

The mask mandate was lifted two weeks ago after the stabilization of COVID cases, and students are able to go maskless once again, Director of Secondary Learning and Leadership Chad Buboltz confirmed.

Before the update in ruling, NHS had a full-mask policy, which made masks mandatory to wear. This seemingly lightning-fast change was actually created after a long process of observing both the amount of COVID cases in the school and the trend of how these numbers were changing.

“We haven’t seen dramatic rises or decreases recently,” Mr. Buboltz said. “We thought it was an appropriate time to give our students a choice at Shattuck and the high school to be mask optional.”

The district elementary schools, however, are unable to go mask-optional because of the votes of the Board of Education keeping masks mandatory for them until Jan. 3. After which the Board of Education confirms that “masking will be optional for all buildings,” according to a press release sent to N.J.S.D. families following the board’s decision on Nov. 2.

The unwavering wall that has been Neenah’s COVID statistics is still fallible. If 2 percent of the school population were to be positive with COVID, a crack in the foundation of these new rules would bring NHS back into the requirement of masks.

When comparing NHS’ new mask rules with other local school districts, Oshkosh, Appleton, Menasha and Green Bay schools still require masks to this day because of  their higher number of COVID cases. This also speaks for Neenah’s stable COVID statistics, especially compared with other districts.

According to a recent Neenah Satellite poll, of those who continue to wear masks, over 95 percent of these students said that the main reason they wear one is to protect themselves or others. As for those who choose not to wear a mask, 50 percent think that it is unnecessary, 26 percent stopped wearing one because other people stopped, and 23 percent stopped wearing one because they dislike having to wear a mask.

As COVID cases remain stable in the district, the new mask policy will remain in place indefinitely.