Wis. Dept of Health releases more guidelines to help schools deal with outbreaks

Each school district will have the flexibility to handle an outbreak as administrators and local health officials see fit.
Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 10:29 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - School districts are getting more guidelines from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services about how to minimize the spread of the virus when students go back to school over the next few weeks.  

“With the disease activity we are seeing, the reality is, we will be seeing outbreaks in schools once the school year starts,” said Traci DeSalvo, Acting Director, Bureau of Communicable Diseases. 

The health department defines an outbreak as two or more positive cases in a facility. 

The new guidance outlines preventative measures, including information on best practices for wearing a face covering, cohorting students and details on how to effectively detect and respond to cases and outbreaks in a school.  

Each school district will have the flexibility to handle an outbreak as administrators and local health officials see fit.

“Our guidance really provides a set of guidelines, but isn’t so prescriptive about things you have to do in every setting,” said DeSalvo. 

Elementary school students at the Unified School District of De Pere will go to school five days a week. Classrooms will be modified and students will stay with their cohorts to minimize the potential of an outbreak.

To see the district’s reopening plan, click here.

To help parents visualize what will happen if a student test positive for the virus, the district released a flow chart outlining the guidance from the Brown County health department.  

“It just talks about what would happen if someone has symptoms; if they test positive, what kind of isolation and quarantine would be required between the person who might be infected or is infected, as well as the family,” said Ben Villarruel, Superintendent of the Unified School District of De Pere. 

A student who gets a test will need to wait for the results at home. 

If the test is positive, the student will stay home at least 10 days after their symptoms first appeared and can go a full day without any symptoms or medication. 

If the test is negative, but they have been in contact with someone who had a confirmed case, then the student will need to quarantine for 14 days. 

Local health officials will help administrators make decisions about school closures and quarantine measures.

“The De Pere Health Department has been very generous with their time as we figure out how to reopen the school year and we’re glad they will be very involved with us,” said Villarruel.  

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