CDC school guidance unlikely to make major changes in Wisconsin, administrators say

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WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Waukesha Superintendent Joe Koch said the district has been holding in-person classes since last September, and fully open for weeks, so the CDC guidelines to reopen schools released Friday, Feb. 12, can only go so far.

“Our doors have been open," Koch said. "So the guidance is nice, but we’ve found a way to manage this year.”

Koch said the district currently has their lowest number of students in quarantine since last September. The CDC listed five major keys to reopening schools. They said the two biggest priorities should be wearing masks and distancing. Koch said they are following those as best as possible.

“Masking, definitely," Koch said. "Social distancing, or physical distancing, in the school is just not practical. Our classrooms are spread out to the best of our ability.”

Milwaukee Public Schools said the guidelines will not speed up their current plan to phase most students in by April.

"Our Roadmap to Readiness, which includes phasing in in-person learning for some students in April, still stands. That decision will be reviewed next month by the board," MPS spokesperson Earl Arms said in a statement.

The Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators said virtually every district in the state already has at least a reopening plan, so the guidance likely won’t change any timelines.

“The guidance is useful," WASDA Director Jon Bales said. "It’s not a solution.”

Bales said the guidelines can still help districts in Wisconsin by highlighting resources they should be pushing for to help open safely.

“We have shortages of testing sufficiently to use them really in schools. We have drastic shortages of contact tracers.”

The CDC guidelines do not list vaccines as key for opening schools. The Milwaukee Teachers Education Association has been pushing for them as a condition to return.

“While federal guidance and support has been lacking, and out of touch with the reality workers and students face in underfunded public schools, our position has not changed since the beginning of this pandemic,” MTEA President Amy Mizialko said in a statement.

Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction said they will review the new guidelines over the weekend and continue to take their cues from public health officials.

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