Administration decides to go mask optional

Anna McCarthy, Reporter

Starting on Tuesday, Feb. 22, the Berlin Area School District will be mask optional for all students and staff members. Students and staff are welcome to continue to wear a mask, however, it will no longer be required. 

“The mask mandate is being changed to optional because the seven-day average of positive cases is decreasing. We use the Mask Metrics found in our BASD 2021-2022 Opening Plan that follows this seven-day average of positive COVID-19 cases in our BASD attendance zone. As noted, this is decreasing daily. We also follow the COVID-19 patient hospitalization rates which have gone down as have our local and state COVID-19 infection rates,” Director of Health Services Terri Mauel said. “The projections of positive cases and actual infection rates both run along the same curve line though actual cases are less than the projected ones. We have found the projections to be close to being on the actual course, though as I noted, there are fewer cases than predicted. In addition to this decrease, we have seen a decline in Omicron a week earlier than anticipated. We should see even lower numbers by the end of the week.”

The decision to go mask optional was not a light decision and Mauel plus many others went over the data to determine whether or not it would be safe.

We have seen a decline in Omicron a week earlier than anticipated. We should see even lower numbers by the end of the week.

— Director of Health Services Terri Mauel

“The steps taken were to follow the Mask Metrics, hospital projections, the state, county, and local data, and our own school data. Our medical team, which is composed of County Public Health members, our Medical Advisors, and some of our BASD COVID-19 team, met to discuss the findings and if we could switch to optional masking safely,” Mauel said.  

Students that ride buses or any other form of public transportation will still have to continue to wear masks.

“It is still mandatory on buses as per the federal rule.  All public transportation vehicles must have mandatory masking which includes buses, airplanes, trains, etc,” Mauel said. 

In lifting the mask mandate, the risk for students to contract other illnesses, not just COVID-19, will go up.