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Board approves mask mandate for Fort Atkinson schools

FORT ATKINSON, Wis. (AP) — The Fort Atkinson School Board has implemented a mask mandate for all students following the death of a middle school student whose mother said died after contracting COVID-19.

Parents on both sides of the issue addressed school officials Thursday night. Some parents cried as they demanded a mask mandate, saying their children now fear dying from the virus after losing a classmate.

The mask mandate will be in effect until the board’s next meeting on Oct. 26, the State Journal reported.

Mandating masks is a controversial issue that has been politicized in school districts across the country. Until now, wearing a mask was optional in the Fort Atkinson district.

“I feel sad that school districts are being forced to make medical decisions, decisions that should be made by epidemiologists at the county, state and federal level,” Fort Atkinson School Board President Mark Chaney said.

The death of the 13-year-old Fort Atkinson student is currently under investigation by the Jefferson County Medical Examiner’s Office, which said it could take months before a cause of death is known.

A GoFundMe fundraiser organized by the student’s mother said he was positive for COVID-19 when he died on Tuesday.

“He had been congested for two days with what seemed like a cold,” his mother Tammy Rees wrote. “While resting at home, he stopped breathing. We are besides ourself with loss. During resuscitation efforts, it was discovered that Danny had COVID. Although the doctors think this was just a contributing factor and not the complete cause, our family has now tested positive.”

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