Kenosha County Health Officer Jen Freiheit recommends that all local schools and colleges switch to virtual-only learning from Nov. 23 to Jan. 4. File Photo by Daniel Thompson/The Uptown Observer.

KENOSHA COUNTY ⏤ Kenosha County officials are recommending that local schools move to virtual-only instruction until January due to COVID-19.

Kenosha County Health Officer Jen Freiheit is “strongly recommending that all schools within the county ⏤ K-12, colleges and universities ⏤ switch to virtual instruction.”

She calls for the virtual period to last from Nov. 23 to Jan 4, according to a Monday release from the county.

Continuing upward COVID-19 trend

Freiheit’s recommendation comes amid “the continuing upward trend of COVID-19 cases in Kenosha County, with no slowdown projected in the next 12 weeks. The disease appears to be disproportionately affecting Wisconsin communities as well.

“Our schools have been incredibly cooperative, working with us every step of the way throughout the pandemic,” Freiheit said. “The goal of this recommendation is to keep the students, school staff and families as safe as possible as we move into the holiday season.” 

Freiheit said moving to virtual schooling during the holiday season would allow for a decrease in community gathering and movement over the period of six weeks, which is three COVID-19 incubation periods. 

“This is necessary to slow the spread in our county, so that we don’t overwhelm the health care system,” Freiheit said. 

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Not a binding order

Freiheit issued her recommendation after consulting with school districts and higher education institutions across Kenosha County. It is not a binding order, but Freiheit urges schools, colleges and universities to give it serious consideration. 

This recommendation also includes sports and other extracurricular activities. 

“With Thanksgiving, December holidays and New Year’s gatherings, public health is preparing for a spike in cases after each event. It is the small family gatherings with those outside of your immediate household that are spreading COVID the fastest.” 

Jen Freiheit, Kenosha County Health Officer

Freiheit noted that when it comes to holiday gatherings, celebrating virtually and/or just with those within your own household is the safest approach.

Residents are urged to self-isolate for 14 days beforehand before attending Thanksgiving gatherings with family. 

Those who do not self-isolate beforehand and spend more than 15 minutes at a gathering are urged to self-isolate afterward.

Individuals who did not first self-isolate and who spend more than 15 minutes at a gathering where people were not distanced or masked are then advised to isolate for 14 days upon returning home, to help prevent potential community spread of the virus. 

More tips

More holiday celebration recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are available at http://bit.ly/CDCHolidays2020

“Whether it’s adjusting to virtual schooling, changing holiday plans or choosing to self-isolate, we recognize that all of these things present hardships for individuals and families,” Freiheit said. “But these are things we know we must do to help slow down what has been an ever-increasing rate of COVID-19 infections in our community”

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Daniel Thompson is an independent journalist and the founder of The Uptown Observer based in the Kenosha, Wis., area. He started in journalism at the Western Nebraska Observer in 2012 and, most notably,...