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Will Wisconsin Schools Reopen This Fall - Carlos GaminoBy Attorney Carlos Gamino

If you’re like most parents, you’re wondering whether schools in Wisconsin are going to reopen in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic – and you’re concerned about making the right choice for your child if they do. It’s a tough balance; moms and dads all over Wisconsin need to work, and kids need formal education, so what are we all supposed to do?

The State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee met online in mid-July to talk about it, and its members don’t seem too keen on the idea of opening.

“School opening is an engine for all the other respiratory viruses. This is going to be a nightmare for our school districts,” said Dr. Jonathan Temte, a UW-Madison family medicine professor.

Schools all over Wisconsin have been given more than $200 million in COVID-19 relief funds – $45 million for private and charter schools and $155 million for public schools – which may help teachers and school administrators prepare to open the schools with safety precautions in place.

Dan Rossmiller of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards said, “Our goal is to reopen if possible five days a week. Whether that’s realistic or sustainable will depend upon infection rates, the spread of the virus and people’s perceptions about how dangerous that is.”

In June, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released guidelines for reopening. The plan, which totals nearly 90 pages, includes the potential to shift between in-person instruction and virtual learning as necessary, as well the possibility for a four-day school week and short-term closures. The guidelines aren’t mandatory, and nothing in them is a requirement – they’re only meant to help individual administrators make the right choices, according to Deputy State Superintendent Mike Thompson.

Parents who aren’t comfortable with their own school district’s arrangements are free to teach their children at home, provided they’re registered as homeschoolers. You can get more information on Wisconsin’s requirements for homeschooling here.

What Do You Think?

Will you send your children to school in the fall? Do you think it’s safe to do so, or would you prefer to keep them home to limit their potential exposure? How do you feel about Wisconsin’s guidelines? I’d love to hear your opinion on whether our state’s schools should reopen in the fall – and if you believe they should, which restrictions each district should put in place. Please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or Twitter feed to join the conversation!

Attorney Carlos Gamino