Recommendations include mask wearing, physical distancing, and increased mitigation efforts

Just as many local school districts were finally reopening their campuses and classrooms fully for the coming school year, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is strongly recommending school districts use newly updated COVID-19 recommendations when implementing local responses to the pandemic for the 2021-22 school year. 

“As a former Wisconsin school district leader who led a school district through COVID last year, I know many students and families desire in-person learning and a safe return to the classroom this fall,” State Superintendent Jill Underly said. “We want schools open for in-person instruction. And we want to keep kids, educators, and families safe. The joint guidance we are strongly recommending districts follow provides a roadmap for a safe return to in-person school.” 

Among the DPI’s updated guidelines, schools are encouraged to require masks for all children and adults while indoors and use layered mitigation and prevention measures. Masking on all public transportation, including school buses, which is still required under CDC guidelines. Also, layered mitigation and prevention measures outlined in the guidance include promoting COVID-19 vaccination among eligible students, teachers, and staff; promoting correct mask use; encouraging physical distancing and cohorting; screening testing of students and staff experiencing symptoms; and enhanced cleaning and disinfection. 

“To ensure our schools stay open to in-person instruction, it is essential districts do everything they can to keep kids, staff, and families safe,” Underly said. “With almost half a million children in our public schools currently unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, they remain vulnerable and susceptible to infection. Our schools must take appropriate measures and utilize available resources to ensure the safety of their students and staff. That includes wearing masks while indoors and utilizing other strategies and mitigation measures outlined in our updated guidance.” 

The DPI’s recommendations were created in consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and are based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s K-12 school guidance. The DPI’s updated guidelines are available in full on the agency’s website.

It’s unclear how local school boards, parents and affected staff will respond to the new recommendations as new and apparently more deadly and transmittable variations of the pandemic are noted locally.

 

- With information from the DPI