MADISON — Governor Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced April 20 the state has received more than $175 million in federal funding to develop a program to support school-based COVID-19 testing for teachers, staff and students. The program will be part of a comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation approach to assist schools in operating safely.
“We know this pandemic has been tough on students, educators, staff and administration alike,” said Governor Evers. “Expanding access to testing is one tool we can use to help decrease disruption in classrooms across the state.”
In March, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would be investing $10 billion to increase screening testing to help schools reopen, and an additional $2.25 billion to ramp up testing in underserved populations.
DHS will be working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to develop a testing program that optimizes the state’s existing COVID-19 testing infrastructure and designing the program in light of recommendations from the CDC. A survey went out to school districts and private schools last week to gather input on what kind of testing programs would best suit their needs. Testing would be offered on a voluntary basis and would not be mandated.
“Testing has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “This funding will allow us to implement a COVID-19 testing program for schools that supports the safety and wellbeing of teachers, staff members and students throughout the state.”
Schools will be able to choose from different testing options for the spring and summer and further options will be available in the fall for the 2021-22 school year. More information will be available as plans for those options take shape.
New Glarus holds HS vaccination clinic; Monroe eyes its own
On April 20, New Glarus High School held a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for students ages 16-18. Monroe Hometown Pharmacy administered the vaccine, which was assisted in coordination by district nurse Kayla Zimmerman.
In all, 51 students were vaccinated at the school-hosted clinic.
“Many other students have already been vaccinated elsewhere,” said Kris Anderson, New Glarus High School executive assistant.
Rick Waski, Monroe District Administrator, said that Monroe is also looking to hold its own vaccine clinic. The date of which would be dependent on how many doses can be secured, but he expected a clinic to be held either April 28 or May 6.