As the Waunakee school board considered an expedited timeline for returning grades 5-12 for in-person instruction, the administration has sent this appeal to parents:
We hope this message finds you and your families well. Thank you for supporting your children and sharing your thoughts on school reopening and how to keep our community safe. There are varying perspectives on how to address COVID-19 in our community, and we are contacting you today in hopes to bring unity to our approach to minimize the spread of this disease among our students, staff, families, and community.
In partnership with our Board of Education, we have worked to plan for and begin the implementation for the return of our students to in-person instruction in our school buildings. On Monday, October 26th, we transitioned students in 3rd and 4th grades as well as students in our Enhanced Virtual model back into our school buildings. We will revisit options for the return of students in grades 5-12 on Monday, November 2nd.
As we see an upward climb in the COVID-19 positive cases in Waunakee and Wisconsin, we ask that you be mindful of your social gatherings and the need to adhere to the health and safety guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC). Small gatherings have repeatedly been shown to be events that spread the COVID-19 virus. To date, we believe we have not had a COVID-19 transmission in our classrooms or activities; however, we have had many incidents of COVID-19 positive cases impacting our children, staff, and school activities through transmission and close contacts that occur outside of school buildings.
We are asking you to work together with the school district to keep our numbers low and our community as healthy as possible. We all want the pandemic to end and our lives to return to normal. The district has learned through our contract tracing that individuals who attended small gatherings have been impacted by the virus. Individuals have shared that seemingly innocent interactions have precipitated the spread of this disease. Please continue to evaluate your children’s and family’s activities to minimize, to the best of your ability, the impact of COVID-19 on our school environment.
We also need cooperation from parents/students with contact tracing to limit the spread of COVID-19. Last week, Public Health Madison Dane County (PHMDC) transitioned to Crisis Mode in regards to contact tracing due to the significant increase in the number of positive cases in Dane County. Due to this change in their operations, individuals who test positive are being asked to contact others with whom they have been in contact. The school district also needs to know if a student has tested positive or has been in contact with a person who has tested positive. The district needs to know this information so we can work with families on the protocols to follow so we do not contribute to the spread of the virus within our community.
If a contact tracer from our school district or PHMDC calls you, please help us by providing the information that is being sought through this process. We are not casting blame or looking to get anyone in any sort of trouble; we just need information regarding who is testing positive and who might be a close contact so we can ensure that everyone who is impacted is following the same protocols, quarantining timelines, and staying out of school and activities until cleared.
We have had some questions regarding the 14-day quarantine outlined by CDC and PHMDC guidelines and would like to clarify. If your child has been deemed a “close contact” and needs to quarantine for 14 days, a negative COVID-19 test(s) does NOT shorten that quarantine timeline to return to school and all activities. It is important to fulfill your 14-day quarantine to ensure the safety of others. Thank you for your assistance and cooperation with this important process.
What can you do to help us?
• Adhere to the mandatory Daily Health Self Check when entering our school buildings.
• Keep children home when they have symptoms and notify the school’s Health Office.
• Contact your School Nurse or Kurt Eley, Director of Student Services, if your child has tested positive for COVID-19 or has been in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. This information is crucial if your student is a virtual student or in a hybrid instructional model.
• If deemed a “close contact”, quarantine for 14 days at home.
• Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between non-household members.
• Wear a face covering.
• Limit gathering in groups inside/outside.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
• Avoid coughing and sneezing into your hands or in the air.
• Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
• Be alert for COVID-19 symptoms.
Our ability to maintain and expand in-person learning models for our students truly rests with all of us. Please continue to be vigilant and follow best practices to keep our community safe.
Thank you for your attention and cooperation.
Randy Guttenberg, Superintendent
Kurt Eley, Director of Student Services
Waunakee Community School District