Wisconsin school districts prepare for fall return; Wisconsin DHS launches COVID-19 activity level dashboard

MILWAUKEE -- School districts across Wisconsin are scrambling to figure out how to open their doors safely in the fall. On Tuesday, June 23, a new data dashboard rolled out that can help districts make decisions and stay on top of the COVID-19 threat posed in their area.

Andrea Palm

The dashboard, launched by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, is comprised of maps and tables that toggle among counties and health care emergency readiness coalition regions.

"We want to make sure local leaders, businesses and individuals in Wisconsin have the tools they need to make decisions in their communities," said Andrea Palm, Wisconsin DHS secretary-designee.

The counties and regions on the dashboard are color-coded to indicate overall COVID-19 activity status -- a helpful resource as school districts plan for the upcoming school year. With possible plans for a mix of in-person and virtual learning, the idea of what families will endure can seem overwhelming.

Gov. Tony Evers

Gov. Evers chimed in on the challenges that could be posed when it comes to child care and the adjustment.

"I feel confident that school districts will be able to figure this out," said Gov. Tony Evers. "Local school districts will be making that decision, and frankly one of the things they will take into account is day care and how is that going to work for families."

Equity is another issue that Janice Mertes with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction said districts are well aware of and planning for.

"We are here to support them, we are here to help them leverage the resources and funding that we're available to make sure kids have what they need," Mertes said. "Think about how we can be flexible during this, as well as districts, taking a lesson learned that they have localized needs that have to rise up to the top."

Surveys in many districts have already started circulating. In the meantime, to stay up to date on the recommendations from the Department of Public Instruction and the data dashboard to help determine COVID-19 activities in your community, CLICK HERE.