Wisconsin school districts moving different directions in COVID-19 response

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Oak Creek School District parents picked their children up from school for the last day indefinitely Friday, Oct. 16.

Parents had mixed opinions on the district's decision to move to an entirely virtual format, out of concern over rising COVID-19 cases in the area.

“It’s a little bit safer for the kids, and some of the older people,” Cedar Hills Elementary School parent Chris Wilde said.

“I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I also have a toddler at home too, so having both of them is not something I want to deal with five days a week," Cedar Hills parent Brittany Heiden said.

Racine Unified School District announced Friday they will continue with their current plan of all-virtual learning. The county is currently classified as “high risk” by the state.

“We’re going to stay remote until further notice," RUSD Chief of Communication Stacy Tapp said, "We’re not making the decision for the entire quarter. We’re saying until further notice, until the data shows that it’s safe.”

The Waukesha School District is moving in the opposite direction. They will switch from an entirely virtual format, to holding some in-person classes next week.

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Nursing Consultant Louise Wilson said the lack of a statewide policy makes things difficult on districts.

“It’s very hard I think for school officials who don’t have any medical and scientific and public health knowledge to make some of these real critical decisions,” Wilson said.

Wilson said it’s difficult for schools to prevent outbreaks, given student behavior and physical limitations of the buildings.

“Look at most school buildings and how they were made," Wilson said. "They weren’t made to be really large spaces and be able to have people spread out.”

DPI data released Thursday showed enrollment in public schools statewide is down 3% from last year.

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