The following is an announcement from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).
The revised DPI document COVID-19 Infection Control and Mitigation Measures for Wisconsin Schools 2021/2022 is now posted. This guidance is reflective of DPI’s commitment and focus on equity, both educational and health equity. The focus is on protecting the most vulnerable in schools while supporting in-person instruction. The use of any COVID-19 mitigation strategy remains a district decision.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Community Levels represent a shift in the pandemic response from eliminating SARS-CoV-2 transmission toward minimizing the impact of severe COVID-19 disease. The CDC reminds us that there are people who remain at higher risk for COVID -19 and who may need additional protection. This includes those who are immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions, those who have disabilities, or those who live with people who are at risk. Those individuals might choose or be directed to take extra precautions regardless of what level their community is in.
Districts which educate and employ individuals who need additional protection are called upon to provide these protections. Additionally, some people may choose to wear a mask at any time based on personal preference. Based on the new strategy from the CDC and DPI’s health and educational equity focus this revision of the document provides information for schools to use mitigation strategies to protect the most vulnerable in the school community. This involves keeping ill or potentially infectious students and staff from attending school, promoting vaccination, ensuring adequate ventilation, and supporting students and staff who choose to wear masks.
Students and staff should still isolate if ill or symptomatic. Both Isolation and Quarantine protocols remain in place. Known cases of COVID-19 still need to be reported. The CDC has stated that universal case investigation and contact tracing are no longer recommended in schools. The focus is on outbreak prevention. Schools may choose to continue these practices in collaboration and conjunction with the local health department. Case investigation and contact tracing, in combination with testing, wearing a well-fitting mask, and quarantine and isolation remain effective strategies to identify people with COVID-19 and to reduce transmission and prevent outbreaks in schools.
As the CDC moves away from universal contact tracing the emphasis is on individual responsibility to inform others of their potential exposure. The CDC is recommending schools implement appropriate COVID-19 prevention measures and support broad-based efforts to notify people of a potential exposure. Exceptions to this broad-based approach may be required to protect students and staff at higher risk of complications if exposed to SARs-CoV2. It is suggested districts inform their school community of the chosen notification approach. The DPI document provides suggestions on how to apply broad-based notification and education efforts in schools.
COVID-19 testing remains a strategy available for schools.