The Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) reported on Monday, Jan. 10, that 21 schools (and the Educational Support Center) in the Kenosha Unified School District had moved to virtual learning since the start of the year.
As of Monday afternoon, the KUSD COVID Dashboard showed 14 more schools had reached the 3 percent threshold for positive COVID-19 cases among the schools’ total populations since Friday, Jan. 7.
KUSD has grossly mishandled its treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to placate those with the angriest voices. Instead of taking a strong stance on the side of science, they chose to ignore what experts have been saying, which has contributed to the staggering numbers we are seeing now within our community.
The School Board Convenes
The KUSD School Board held an emergency meeting on Jan. 3 to discuss the matter of student/staff safety and how the district would proceed amidst growing numbers of Kenoshans testing positive for COVID-19.
Community members spoke with passion and fervor about whether students should be virtual or in person. Brenda Dahl, a mother of two KUSD students from Pleasant Prairie, questioned the safety measures KUSD had proposed last school year, specifically for improved ventilation systems and proper masks being made available within the schools, such as the N95 masks.
“It’s difficult, I have to say, for parents to have confidence in Kenosha Unified when many of the safety measures have been ignored in our district,” said Dahl. “As far as I know, there is no plan to upgrade air ventilation systems at any of the schools. The COVID Dashboard is extremely difficult to interpret, and it’s not always up-to-date. There are no rapid testing kits available at the schools, and no KN95 masks, that I know of, readily available at our schools.”
These questions went unanswered. Dahl asked the school board to vote for virtual learning during the immediate circumstances. If that was not possible, she asked for a virtual option to be made available for families while caseloads are high. No discussions were had about any of these concerns by the school board after the public comment portion had ended. They seemed to have no intention of entertaining thoughts other than the ones already in their own minds.
Dahl also spoke, as she put it, for the people who might not be heard due to the backlash of the highly-volatile subject matter. Many parents have been the brunt of ridicule over their decisions to adhere to the CDC-recommended guidelines for their families – including KUSD students – throughout the pandemic. She reminded the school board that “the loudest voices are not always the majority of voices.”
Other parents voiced their opinions as well. Some spoke of the need for in-person learning while others cited the necessity for adolescents to socialize for mental health. One claimed that masks are suffocating the children while another spoke of the inefficiency of masks. Still, another parent highlighted their opinion that virtual learning does not work and that families are being forced to change their schedules and lives to adjust to at-home learning.
The COVID-19 Pandemic in January, 2022
While the pandemic has shown our society many things, it has shown that most of the above items are true to varying degrees. Masks do not suffocate people. They are, however, ineffective when they are not being worn properly.
The facts remain. SARS-CoV2 is still here. It has the potential to adversely affect, hospitalize, and even kill, young and old alike. And with the advent of the Omicron variant, it discriminates much less between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
For those who contract the virus in this new form, the Omicron variant has shown itself to be far less dangerous. This is typical in the evolution of a virus. However, as a virus continues to evolve, it has the possibility of learning to fight our immune responses better, allowing for a more dangerous infection. There is still an abundance of unknowns about this virus; as a society, we should be treating it as such.
On Jan. 7, the KUSD COVID Dashboard showed the following data breakdown of its schools. With the knowledge of how many schools – nine – were either already at 3% or above, as well as the ones that were inching closer to the threshold, the school board voted for the schools to remain open despite the warnings from the CDC and the WHS.
By comparison, the following image is of the dashboard for Jan. 12. Schools (including the ESC) that were at or above 3% skyrocketed, in just five days, from nine to 34.
The decision to keep schools open for the first week after a major holiday break where it was widely known that families would be gathering together, even with warnings from leading experts, has only made our situation more dire.
The more the public fights with experts, the more people spread misinformation, the longer the pandemic will continue to rage. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services tweeted on Tuesday: 150% increase in confirmed cases over a 2-week span.
So what can we do? Get a vaccine and booster. Not because someone is telling you it’s a magic shot that will keep you COVID-free, because that is not accurate. No vaccine is 100% effective. The vaccine is to boost immunity but also gives us a much better fighting chance if we do get infected.
Wearing a mask, even when vaccinated, is important not for the individual wearing the mask, but for those around them. Even with being vaccinated, we can still inhale the virus. If the virus isn’t able to attach itself to vaccinated tissue, it continues to circulate when we exhale. There is the potential to spread COVID-19 to others, possibly without even becoming infected ourselves.
The Racine County Eye and Kenosha Lens is committed to publishing the most current and accurate information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in our Coronavirus section. View both the Racine County COVID-19 Dashboard and Kenosha County COVID-19 Dashboard offering real-time (updated Monday – Friday) statistical reporting for Racine and Kenosha Counties.