The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) on Thursday urged students to return to masking amid a surge in positive coronavirus cases.
As most classes are scheduled to begin in January, DHS recommended wearing a mask, even if it is not required by the school district. Furthermore, the officials advocated for vaccinations and a quarantine period if exposed.
“With Omicron cases surging in Wisconsin and schools returning from holiday break next week, there is considerable concern that the number of children becoming infected with COVID-19 will increase – having major ripple effects for community transmission and COVID-19 hospitalizations,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer and State Epidemiologist. “All Wisconsinites have a responsibility to help protect the health and well-being of children, especially those who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated or receive a booster dose, by engaging in layered COVID-19 mitigation strategies.”
While officials pointed to studies that show milder illness in individuals with the Omicron variant, DHS claimed the Delta variant is still prevalent among the state’s residents.
The officials argued the protective measure will allow for children throughout the state to continue in-person learning, a privilege that was stripped during a large portion of the pandemic.
“We know how important in-person instruction is for our learners, families, and our communities,” said State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly. “Keeping our schools open at this critical moment is the right choice, but it requires a collective effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 – this means getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and following testing and safety protocols. We all have to do our part to make sure our learners and educators can maintain safe and healthy classrooms.”
Because of the surge in cases, some school districts have considered a return to remote learning.
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