The upcoming start of the 2020-2021 school year during the COVID-19 pandemic brings a unique set of challenges to Wisconsin school districts and local and tribal health departments.
Ensuring the safety of Wisconsin students is key to furthering their education, which is why today DHS is building on Education Forward and Reopening School Buildings Risk Assessment Tool documents that were released in June by releasing Guidelines for the Prevention, Investigation, and Control of COVID-19 Outbreaks in K-12 Schools in Wisconsin.
School district leaders across the state have been consulting with their local and tribal health departments and making difficult decisions as they balance virus mitigation measures with the need for quality instruction, access to technology and the internet, and the challenge of connecting students and families with needed resources like food, special education services, and mental health services. The newly released guidelines focus on containing the virus by providing a resource for local and tribal health departments as they investigate and control cases and outbreaks in schools within their jurisdictions.
The guidelines released today outline preventive measures, including information on best practices for wearing face coverings and cohorting students, and detail how to effectively detect and respond to cases and outbreaks in a school. Key guidelines include instructions for school staff in identifying cases and close contacts among students, considerations when it comes to contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine practices for infected or exposed students and staff.
In addition to this written guidance, DHS Public Health experts will work alongside local health departments to provide technical assistance to school districts, and DHS will continue to extend resources and assistance when an outbreak is identified.
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