Wisconsin’s top education official on Wednesday urged everyone headed into school buildings in coming days to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks, while nearly 500 pediatricians and other providers called for masks and other measures to curb a surge fueled by the delta variant of the coronavirus.
“The asks are simple, and the rewards are great,” Jill Underly, state superintendent of schools, wrote an editorial urging a united front against the virus. “Wear a mask when inside buildings. Get vaccinated if you’re able to. Maintain safe distancing where possible. If we agree to collectively use these mitigation strategies, our school buildings remain open.”
The letter to parents and schools from pediatricians and other providers who care for children emphasized masks, maintaining 3 feet of distance and vaccinations for those eligible, which is anyone 12 and older. Most public schools in Wisconsin open on or after Sept. 1.
“As this latest surge of COVID-19 converges with the start of school, we are presented with a new and critical challenge,” the letter says. “Our children reap great benefits from a return to in-person schooling. But we must ensure that those schools are safe.”
At the beginning of last school year, before vaccines became available, many schools didn’t open to in-person learning or took a hybrid approach for at least part of the year.