Wauwatosa COVID mitigation policy changes in place

Students in the Wauwatosa School District no longer need to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19. 

Public comment during the Wauwatosa School Board meeting on Monday, Jan. 24 tackled big changes to the district's COVID mitigation policies.

A letter to parents explains the updated criteria – "The district will not require quarantine for any exposures" and "a COVID-positive individual is recommended to provide a negative COVID-19 test before returning to school.

"They are still asked to isolate at home for five days and on that 6th day, if they are not experiencing symptoms, again, aligning with those guidelines – they should come back," said Shawn Rolland, a school board member.

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Rolland said too many students were getting "caught up in the quarantine."

"When we looked into the data, we found hundreds of our students were quarantining at home because of our policies and guidelines – but the vast majority were not getting COVID," Rolland said.

Shawn Rolland

For parents and students at any school, the policies can often lead to confusion and frustration.

Dr. Joseph McBride is a pediatric infectious disease specialist with UW Health. 

"If you are still having fevers, cough, congestion, shortness of breath at day five – boy, you are not supposed to get out there on day six," the doctor said.

McBride recommends testing before returning to work or school – and like CDC guidelines suggest, mask-wearing until ten days after symptoms.

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"It still is possible for some individuals to transmit between day 6 and 10 – even up to 14 in some rare cases too.  So, overall, strong mask use is really an important part of these new liberalized isolation period," McBride said.

Wauwatosa recommends mask use from days six until ten when returning to school. The district also gives the option of completing a full ten-day isolation and quarantine at home.

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