DHS Releases New and Updated Resources for Schools to Keep Students Safe
Resources include updated guidance on outbreaks and new testing communications toolkit
To help keep students and teachers safe during the 2021-2022 school year, the Department of Health Services (DHS) today launched a K-12 School Testing Program communications toolkit. This toolkit will support school districts and school administrators’ efforts to connect with school staff, families, and communities about the COVID-19 testing opportunities available to them through the schools participating in this program. DHS has also released an updated version of the Guidelines for the Prevention, Investigation, and Control of COVID-19 Outbreaks in K-12 Schools in Wisconsin, a resource for school administrators and local and tribal health departments to use as they work together to make decisions about layered prevention strategies and to prevent and control COVID-19 outbreaks.
As of mid-July, over 300 public school districts and private/independent charter schools had enrolled in the testing program, representing over 50 percent of public school districts and 10 percent of private/independent charter schools in Wisconsin. As of current enrollment, the testing program has the potential to cover almost 60 percent of Wisconsin students. A one-time consent form signed by a parent or guardian will allow students to participate in the testing program. Enrollment remains open(link is external), and interested districts and schools are encouraged to learn more about the COVID-19 K-12 School Testing Program.
“As a former Wisconsin school district leader who led a school district through COVID-19 last year, I know many students and families desire in-person learning and a safe return to the classroom this fall. We want schools open for in-person instruction. And we want to keep kids, educators, and families safe,” said Wisconsin State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly. “The joint guidance we are strongly recommending districts follow provides a roadmap for a safe return to in-person school.”
The Delta variant is highly infectious and is widespread in all part so Wisconsin, as it is across the country. As the Delta variant spread increases, so does the risk that new, potentially more dangerous variants will develop. That is why state health officials are urging all eligible Wisconsinites to get the COVID-19 vaccine, wear a mask indoors or when gathering outside, and follow other best health practices. The vaccine is extremely effective against serious disease, hospitalizations, and death. While getting vaccinated remains the very best way to stop the spread of this deadly virus, we also need to have multiple layers of protection including universal masking in schools, particularly to protect those who are too young to get the vaccine as well as those with compromised immune systems.
“If your child is 12 years old or older, please get them vaccinated. And make sure you get your COVID-19 vaccine, too,” said Secretary-designee Timberlake. “Each additional person who gets vaccinated helps protect their family, their community, and our entire state. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is an individual action that has community-wide impact.”
Many schools are hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics for their staff, eligible students, family members, and in comes cases, the general public. Visit the DHS COVID-19: K-12 Schools webpage or vaccines.gov(link is external) to learn more about available vaccine providers and sites.
Parents and guardians can also learn more about the importance of testing by watching testimonials from Wisconsin parents and school administrators in the COVID-19 Testing in Schools video, and can visit the COVID-19 Healthy Kids webpage for other resources about protecting children from COVID-19.
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