FILE — In-person pandemic learning

Students in fifth grade wear masks as they wait for their teacher in the classroom at Oak Terrace Elementary School in Highwood, Illinois.

(The Center Square) – Vaccinated kids and vaccinated teachers in Wisconsin do not have to wear masks when they go back to school this fall, unless their local school wants requires it.

Both the state’s Department of Health Services and the Department of Public Instruction are telling local schools across the state to follow the CDC’s latest guidelines.

“The DHS has endorsed the latest CDC guidance on masks, so that is the guidance our agency will be recommending and communicating to school districts as they plan for the fall,” DPI communications specialist Chris Bucher told The Center Square.

But Bucher is clear it’s just “guidance.”

“There is no official blanket ‘policy’ that applies to all districts in the state,” Bucher explained. “With Wisconsin being a local-control state, policy decisions, such as the use of masks, social distancing, and mitigation strategies have been made by local districts after discussions with both the DHS and local health departments.”

Wisconsin’s Association of School Boards says they expect local schools to make individual decisions about masks and social distancing this fall.

“We would expect that districts are going to be following CDC and local and state health department guidance,”  the School Boards’ Sheri Krause told The Center Square earlier this week. “School boards and administrators will need to take into consideration that children under the age of 12 cannot yet be vaccinated and there are others who they are serving that have underlying medical conditions.”

Krause said the association doesn’t track how many districts have made a decision about masks, and doesn’t know how many schools are going to require masks for the fall.

Wisconsin’s largest school district, Milwaukee Public Schools, said in early June it will require students to continue to wear masks in the classroom next fall. Many other larger school districts in the state are also leaning toward keeping their mask rules.

All kids in Wisconsin will continue to have to wear masks on the school bus through at least mid-September. The federal requirement that everyone wear a mask on public transportation will remain in place until at least then.