RACINE – The City of Racine is revising its “Safer Racine” ordinance to allow schools to reopen buildings and increase the capacity limits on retail stores, bars, restaurants, and indoor recreation facilities.
The revisions, released Monday by Racine Public Health Administrator Dottie Kay Bowersox, will allow all public and private school buildings within the City of Racine and the Villages of Elmwood Park and Wind Point to reopen after this Friday (Jan. 15). The schools must have an approved City Health Department reopening plan in place. Citing rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, Bowersox had ordered schools to close on Nov. 27.
The ordinance updates also include:
- Bars, restaurants, indoor recreational facilities, and licensed swimming pools revert to phase 4 of “Safer Racine,” allowing them to operate at 50 percent capacity as long as a 6-foot physical distancing can be maintained.
- Retail establishments have capacity limits lifted.
Also, some parts of the “Safer Racine” ordinance will not change. This includes:
- No change to the high-risk recreational category within the ordinance, meaning that many school sports remain prohibited
- Mass gatherings remain capped at a maximum of 50 individuals for special events at private venues.
- Indoor and outdoor mass gatherings in public venues continue to remain closed.
Case Rate Has Slowed
Even though the number of reported cases has decreased, the overall case rate remains significant. But that may be because testing rates have been down, Bowersox said.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic locally, as well as across the state, has slowed in terms of the daily case rate compared with pre-Thanksgiving levels, the number of individuals being tested daily has significantly decreased. This decrease in the overall testing rate may simply be serving to mask the true prevalence of disease within the community and the region,” Bowersox said in a statement. “While schools now have the option to return to in-person learning, many families and staff members are rightfully concerned about the possible transmission of COVID-19 in schools and are thankful for the option of distance learning. With that in mind, we strongly encourage schools to offer, or continue to offer, an option for virtual or distance learning for your students and personnel.”
Bowersox also noted that the City Health Department will closely monitor COVID-19 cases in schools and may choose to report caseload information publicly. If needed, additional preventative measures may be taken to include the closure of schools to prevent further community spread of the virus.
Stacy Tapp, of the Racine Unified School District, released the following statement:
“Based on the city’s announcement, we will re-open our schools on Jan. 19. Staff will return to their classrooms on Jan. 25. Special education students who require in-person services will also return on Jan. 25. We are preparing to start bringing more students back for in-person learning and will continue to provide updates to our families and community in the coming weeks.”