School districts across Waukesha County relax student quarantine guidelines
NEW BERLIN, Wis. (CBS 58) -- At least seven school districts in Waukesha County have changed their policy to relax student quarantine rules in the past week.
The Waukesha School District was the first to make the change Tuesday, May 4. On Thursday, May 6, Waukesha County issued new health guidance stating "Quarantine guidelines will relax to allow students and adults possibly exposed to COVID-19 in school settings to continue in-person learning, if the following conditions are met:
- The school has committed to COVID-19 prevention policies, which include the following: mask wearing, implementing strategies to maximize distance between students, handwashing, ventilation, and management of students exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
- Close contacts remain symptom-free and agree to self-monitor for symptoms a full 14 days following exposure. Close contacts will immediately remove themselves from the school environment if symptoms develop.
- Close contacts strongly consider getting tested on day 6 or 7 after exposure to help identify asymptomatic spread.
Other Waukesha County Districts to follow suit and amend their guidance include Oconomowoc, Kettle Moraine, Richmond, Pewaukee, Arrowhead Union and Menomonee Falls.
The New Berlin School Board was set to consider the policy during a meeting Monday, May 10. Some district parents said the the quarantine policy hurts learning, but other said it makes them feel safe.
“It’s what they’ve been doing so far, and it’s worked," Parent Kim Krause said. "And I think to suddenly take that away, you’re putting women and children at risk.”
Richmond Superintendent Dr. Jeanne Siegenthaler said quarantining students was disruptive to learning.
“One of the most difficult parts of my job this year is having to call a parent and tell them they have to come get their healthy child, when we knew the risk of them contracting COVID when both parties had a mask on was pretty minimal,” Dr. Siegenthaler said.
Pewaukee Superintendent Dr. Mike Cady said only one percent of Waukesha County students put into quarantine actually had COVID. He supported the new policy as better for learning, and said the old policy actively discouraged testing for COVID-19.
“It became a lot of social pressure to not go get tested because if I was a close contact, and I’m positive, now I’m going to negatively affect other people who may be quarantined,” Cady said.
Cady said the district will monitor COVID numbers and could change the policy if it causes a spike in cases.