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MADISON – As students head back to school next week, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is asking all parents and guardians to take action to help slow the spread of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

“With Omicron cases surging in Wisconsin and schools returning from holiday break next week, there is considerable concern that the number of children becoming infected with COVID-19 will increase – having major ripple effects for community transmission and COVID-19 hospitalizations,” Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer and State Epidemiologist said in a news release. “All Wisconsinites have a responsibility to help protect the health and well-being of children, especially those who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated or receive a booster dose, by engaging in layered COVID-19 mitigation strategies.”

Back to School Action Plan

DHS urges parents and guardians to take these important health actions: 

  • Get your child vaccinated for COVID-19, including a booster dose as soon as they are eligible.
  • Ensure your child properly wears a well-fitting mask in all public indoor spaces, including schools, even if it is not required. 
  • Get your child tested for COVID-19 if they are experiencing symptoms or have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
  • Keep your child home from school and other activities to isolate and quarantine if they test positive for or are exposed to COVID-19.

As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 circulates throughout the country, states have seen an increase in the number of pediatric hospitalizations associated with COVID-19. Although pediatric hospitalization levels remain stable in Wisconsin, children 18 years and younger make up the largest proportion of new daily COVID-19 cases in the state, the DHS reported this week.

While preliminary data suggests the Omicron variant may cause milder illness compared to the Delta variant, the highly contagious nature is increasing the overall number of infections, thus increasing the number of hospitalizations, including pediatric cases. The Delta variant also continues to be in wide circulation in Wisconsin and is a major contributor to COVID-19 hospitalizations.

While we prepare to head back to school after the holiday break, Wisconsin remains under a public health advisory (issued by the DHS on December 20). To find a COVID-19 vaccine provider in your community, visit, or call 211 or 877-947-2211. For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage

The Racine County Eye is committed to publishing the most current and accurate information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in our Coronavirus section. View our COVID-19 Dashboard that offers real-time (updated daily) statistical reporting for Racine County.

Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...