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Gov. Evers, health officials outline COVID-19 resources for a safe return to school

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 9:48 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases statewide and the return to school already underway for Wisconsin school districts, Gov. Tony Evers and health officials outlined tools districts have to help curb COVID-19.

“We want our kids to be in the classroom and, just as we have from the beginning of this pandemic, our administration continues working to provide the necessary support and resources our kids, educators, and districts need to be safe,” Evers said.

The Evers administration sent a letter out with the Department of Health Services to all public, private and independent charter schools. It goes through what resources these schools have through DHS and the Department of Public Instruction.

“The Omicron variant is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the state of Wisconsin, and we are witnessing rapid transmission and rising case numbers, particularly in kids under age 18,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “We recommend parents and schools use all the tools in our toolbox to stop the spread of COVID-19. If we can all work together to stop the spread, we can keep schools open and kids learning.”

Districts have the ability to enroll in the DHS School-Based Testing Program, which uses federal funding to provide in-school COVID-19 testing.

Schools are encouraged to host a school-based vaccination and booster clinic during school drop-off and pick-up times, as this makes the resources more accessible.

DHS urges districts to require masks in schools, making sure that they are well-fitted and multi-layered. District leaders can also request KN95 or N95 masks form the DHS stockpile if they cannot obtain them from other sources.

DHS added that it supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s update isolation and quarantine guidance, which calls for a shortened period of both.

State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly stated that she was fully behind the letter from the agencies, as well as its recommendations.

“We cannot keep our children engaged in learning if we cannot keep our children and our school staff healthy,” Dr. Underly said. “To that end, in addition to calling on all school administrators to implement these mitigation measures, I also ask all Wisconsinites for their help in keeping our children and school staff healthy and safe. We must work together to achieve the common goal of healthy kids, healthy educators, and safe schools.”

DSH confirmed Monday that its seven-day rolling average for new COVID-19 cases topped 9,000 for the first time, reaching an all-time high for the nearly two years of the pandemic.

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