Henderson School Kindergarten 012722 03-01282022205507 (copy)

Kindergartner Itzayana Santos Nava plays with Play-Doh during class at Henderson Elementary School in Madison in January, when masks were required.

The Madison Metropolitan School District will begin the 2022-23 school year with a "masks highly recommended" — but not required — policy.

District officials announced the plan Tuesday afternoon, continuing the policy put in place ahead of summer semester this year.

"MMSD will continue to have in place universal health practices such as frequent handwashing, cleaning, and staying home when ill," the district states in its news release.

Sept. 1 will mark the first day of in-person school during the regular school year that MMSD students will be in classrooms without masks on since March 2020.

In its announcement, the district stated that "masks may again be required under the guidance of health officials or if warranted by local COVID conditions."

Last year, the district was the only one in the state to maintain a mask mandate throughout the entire school year. Milwaukee Public Schools also had one in place for much of the year, but it lapsed for two days.

Most of the year was spent under a mandate from Public Health Madison & Dane County, but PHMDC let that expire March 1. Most Dane County school districts immediately ended their mandates or phased them out before the end of the school year.

The district will still require masking in two situations, according to its release:

• When an individual is showing any symptoms of a respiratory illness such as cough, congestion, runny nose, and/or sore throat (regardless of a negative COVID test).

• Any individual who is on days 6-10 of isolation following a positive COVID test.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@captimes.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.