TOMAH, Wis. (WXOW) - Almost all of the parents at Tuesday's special board meeting clapped and cheered when the Tomah School Board voted to keep masks optional inside their buildings.
"I would never ask the public to adjust their life for my needs. My health my choice," parent Tiffany Bever said. "We're not telling anybody that they shouldn't, they can't or we don't want them to. We want them to have their choice. It's America. We have our right to choose not to and it shouldn't affect education."
Two people spoke in favor of a mask mandate.
"Don't listen to the loudest," one parent said. "Listen to what you believe is the best decision for the kids. Yes, you have an obligation to the taxpayers, but you're elected to take care of these children and provide a good education. We're all here because we want our kids to be in school."
Some students want masks to stay optional.
"I support them totally," freshman Nickelas said. "I feel like I could still get COVID but it's an in-between."
He said it's hard to breathe and learn while wearing a mask, plus he feels safe because most of his friends are vaccinated.
The Monroe County Health Department's website lists the county transmissible risk level at "high" as of Wednesday. It also lists masks, vaccines and social distancing as the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The group of concerned parents will also attend future meetings if vaccine mandates are suggested.
"That's why we're here now. We're speaking up for our rights. If the vaccine comes next then we'll be back," Bever said.
She also explained that she and other parents are prepared to petition a recall for some board members if they think it becomes necessary.
"We're more than halfway there."