Gallagher blasts Milwaukee Schools’ mask proposal

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Allouez) is calling on the Milwaukee School Board to reject a new mask proposal that goes against local and federal guidance.

Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Keith Posley’s proposed mandate would require children to don masks if 10% or more of the city’s COVID-19 tests come back positive within a week. As it stands, students would be forced to wear masks, with a current citywide positivity rate of 16%.

District officials insist the proposal aligns with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Milwaukee Health Department on “safely operating schools.” It does not.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:

…Posley’s mask recommendation goes against guidance from the Milwaukee Health Department and the CDC, which use different metrics for their own mask advisories. 

When MPS shared a draft policy with health officials July 22, Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson responded within an hour and advised MPS not to base its policy on test positivity rates, but to instead use the CDC metrics, according to Emily Tau, a spokesperson for the health department. 

The CDC bases its mask recommendations on other data: the number of new COVID cases out of the total population; hospital admissions for COVID; and percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID patients. These metrics also informed the city of Milwaukee’s mask advisory.

Tau noted that the test positivity rate is increasingly inaccurate at measuring the prevalence of COVID, as people rely more on at-home test kits that aren’t counted.

Gallagher asks whether Milwaukee educrats have learned anything over the last two years.

“Masking impacts our kids, particularly young kids, extremely negatively. It impedes their development, their ability to socialize, and it is having a profoundly negative psychological impact on our kids,” the congressman said in a video. “Now, these bureaucrats want to go back to that and punish our kids further, because of their own fear?“

“Please, MPS board, reject this.”

Gallagher also wants to know why Gov. Tony Evers, “who fashions himself as an educator who cares about kids,” has been silent on MPS’ mask proposal.

“Adults who are afraid of COVID-19 have had access to vaccines and boosters for a long time. Schools have been given billions of dollars to improve air quality and ventilation and things like this. This makes no sense,’ the congressman said.

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