CITY OF RACINE — The City Racine's health department is "strongly" recommending - but not ordering - that all city schools teach 100 percent virtually through the second quarter, and until data suggests that it is safe for students to return to the classroom.
Public Health Administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox published the urgent message Thursday afternoon, citing the statistic that places Wisconsin among the top three hot spots for COVID-19 in the U.S. - Racine included.
"Based on the current data and experiences, if Racine Unified brings back 17,000 students, the spread of the virus could not be controlled. With that in mind, I am NOT ordering, but I am strongly recommending that schools teach virtually for the time being,” said Bowersox.
Bowersox does acknowledge that in-person learning will always be the best situation for students and their families under normal circumstances, and that virtual learning puts pressure "in an already difficult time." But desperate times, call for desperate measures.
"At the same time, Wisconsin remains a COVID-19 hot spot in the nation, Racine County just hit the heartbreaking milestone of 100 deaths from COVID-19, and our job is to issue recommendations that put the health of the community first," according to Bowersox.
Bowersox's department also released new statistics:
- There have been 69 positive cases among students, teachers and other staff within schools and related buildings within Racine Public Health Department’s jurisdiction
- 27 different schools have had a positive or probable case identified in the building; this equates to approximately 2/3 (69%) of the schools within the City’s jurisdiction, which include the City of Racine, Elmwood Park, and Wind Point
- There have been 6 confirmed outbreaks involving more than 20 cases:
- Outbreaks have been tied to school related social gatherings and extracurricular sports-related activities
- Some outbreaks have resulted in entire classrooms being transitioned to their school’s “learn from home” model due to exposures
- More than 300 individuals have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person and were or are currently required to quarantine
- Because the area’s largest district is currently teaching virtually, COVID cases among school-age children within the City’s jurisdiction are not increasing at the rate seen where large school districts are open for in-person instruction
- Racine County currently has a “Very High” disease activity and burden as classified by the WI Department of Health Services
- Racine County ranks 18th out of 72 WI counties for COVID-19 Case Rate per 100,000 individuals