MILWAUKEE – The mask mandate for students and teachers will remain in place indefinitely at Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS).
School district leaders say they review new Covid-19 data every Tuesday and Thursday to make that decision.
Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson backs the decision to keep the mask mandate in place at Milwaukee Public Schools.
“Absolutely, I think masks are very effective in the school environment,” Johnson said. “We know our vaccinations are really low for children in the city of Milwaukee, which is definitely a consideration to consider putting on masks.”
It’s Johnson’s job to track Covid-19 measurements and notice trends happening in Milwaukee. She follows everything from case counts and admissions to wastewater data and outbreaks in assembly environments such as day care centers and schools. She makes sure that the latest information is always available to MPS.
“Based on the latest numbers and trends, I’m worried,” Johnson said. “Across the board, the number is rising in all categories, so it gives me a break. Would I like to be in an enclosed space with many people without a mask on? No, I would not. “
On Thursday, Milwaukee remains in the “significant transmission” category, with 60 positive cases per year. 100,000 inhabitants. Tuesday was the 58th. Last Tuesday was the 44th. The previous week was the 32nd. The threshold for being upgraded to “moderate infection” would be 45 positive cases per day. 100,000 inhabitants.
Johnson says current numbers are a countdown because significantly fewer people are being tested, and if they test at home, they do not report their results to the city.
“The pandemic has always been unpredictable, but especially now it’s a very dynamic situation and it’s a challenge,” Johnson said.
Keith Posley, Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, says the city’s “significant transmission” category will keep the mask mandate in place in the near future.
The district is also considering student and teacher cases.
According to Posley, Covid-19 positivity among MPS employees increased by 47 percent over the past three weeks.
Among students, there have been 72 cases of coronavirus over the past week. By comparison, in the last week of March, there were nine cases among students.
Yet this recent rise is much lower than the peak in January with 1,101 cases among students in one week.