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Dane County health department urges schools to keep virtual format despite order injunction

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DANE COUNTY (WKOW) -- Public Health Madison and Dane County is urging school districts to continue a virtual format for grades 3-12, despite Wisconsin Supreme Court ordering a temporary injunction of Emergency Order #9.

On Tuesday, PHMDC filed a motion in hopes of getting the temporary injunction lifted.

Officials outlined the following reasons for their stance, writing:

  • More people than ever are being diagnosed with COVID-19 in Dane County. The most recent 14-day PDF  average was 94 cases per day, which doubled from the prior reporting period PDF . Dane County hit a one-day record of cases on September 9 with 487.
  • The Department of Health Services  categorizes Dane County as having a high and growing, burden of disease.
  • We are also in a period of some of the highest percent positivity that the county has ever had.
  • About a third of people who test positive for COVID-19 do not know where they could have been exposed, indicating we have community spread, and people should limit contact with others.
  • A high percentage of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 are associated with UW-Madison. We are monitoring for spread from UW to the larger Madison and Dane County community, but given the incubation period of COVID-19, this spread might take time to become evident.   

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi issued a statement following the advice:

"Our area has seen an incredible surge in Covid-19 activity in the past 10 days, so much so we now have the sad distinction of being among the dozen fastest growing communities in the country for new cases. This is not where we want to be, nor where we were at any point in this pandemic until recently.

"Today, Dane County attorneys presented the Wisconsin Supreme Court with additional statutory references that discuss a public health officer's authority as it relates to schools. While the legal process will answer questions relating to the law, there is no ambiguity as to what is best for public health - people need to socially distance and take strict precautions if we are to slow the community spread that's occurring.

"I strongly encourage schools to follow the Public Health Director's recommendation and not return to in-person education for third grade and older at this time.

"As we have seen with a number of school districts outside of Dane County in the past week, Covid-19 is not limited to urban areas. There are high levels of the virus in our state and we need to double our efforts now at preventing its spread. "

Matthew Cash

Senior Executive Producer

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