Wisconsin Schools, Public Health Managers Change Coronavirus Rules for Students

students working on school work and wearing masks
by Benjamin Yount


School kids across Wisconsin will likely miss fewer days because of a change in the state’s coronavirus rules.

Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services on Monday sent a letter to every school in the state, informing them of new guidance for coronavirus isolations and quarantines.

“Science shows that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission happens early in the illness, so CDC has shortened the recommended length of isolation from ten days to five days for people with COVID-19 who do not have any COVID-19 symptoms or symptoms have resolved or are improving after five days,” DHS wrote in its letter.

Quarantine rules for students who come into close contact with positive people will likely change soon as well.

“School districts should encourage students, teachers, and staff to get tested, and isolate at home when they are sick, or quarantine if they have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19,” DHS added.

But while the new guidance to schools is that students don’t need to miss as many days, Wisconsin’s public health managers are encouraging a return to mandatory mask-policies.

“All students and staff who are able to properly and safely wear a mask should wear one, which will help support continued in-person learning,” the letter states. “Studies show that a well-fitted, multi-layer face mask can block the majority of respiratory droplets from escaping into the air. Masks can also reduce the wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets by effectively filtering them out of the air they breathe.”

DHS is not imposing a mask mandate. It is simply suggesting that schools adopt mask requirements of their own. To that point, DHS is offering schools across the state some of its stockpile of N95 masks.

Wisconsin State Superintendent Jill Underly said in a letter of her own that the new guidance has the full backing of Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction.

“We cannot keep our children engaged in learning if we cannot keep our children and our school staff healthy,” Underly said on Monday. “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.”

Many schools in Wisconsin sent letters home to parents explaining the new changes. Most schools are simply modifying their quarantine and isolation policies, but are largely ignoring the suggested return to mandatory masks.

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Benjamin Yount contributes to The Center Square.

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