Lake Geneva schools officials are urging parents to keep their children home if they are feeling ill.
Superintendent James Gottinger posted a letter Nov. 16 on the district’s website, www.badger.k12.wi.us, asking parents to keep their children home from school if a child is filling sick or if anyone in the student’s household is being tested for coronavirus.
Gottinger stated in his letter that the Lake Geneva school district has been able to offer in-classroom learning so far this school year, but with the increasing number of cases within the schools that is becoming more difficult.
He said if a student or staff member tests positive for the virus, it also causes people who have had close contact with that person to quarantine, as well.
“We understand that you want your child in school each day,” Gottinger stated in his letter. “However, if they attend school when they shouldn’t, it could result in an entire class or even school having to be shut down.”
Badger High School had 13 active coronavirus cases among students and staff, as of Nov. 20, with a total number of 37 cases so far this school year, according to its online dashboard that is updated regularly.
Both Eastview Elementary School and Star Center Elementary School had seven active cases among students and staff as of Nov. 20. Eastview Elementary School has 10 total cases for the school year, and Star Center Elementary School has nine total cases.
Lake Geneva Middle School had two active cases, and Central-Denison Elementary School have four active cases, as of Nov. 20. The middle school has 13 total cases for the school year, and Central-Denison Elementary School has seven total cases for the year.
Gottinger said even though the number of cases have increased during the past several weeks, district officials have not considered closing schools for in-person learning at this time.
“We have not gotten to the point where we’re closing down,” he said.
Gottinger said schools could close for in-classroom learning if the number of cases continue to increase.
“That is always an option,” he said.
Option of virtual available
Elementary school and middle school students currently have the option to attend school virtually or in person. High school students may attend school in-person, virtually or through a blended approach, which includes a combination of in-classroom and virtual learning.
During the beginning of the school year, about 80 percent of students opted for in-classroom learning and about 20 percent selected virtual or blended learning.
Gottinger said several students who selected in-classroom learning at the beginning of the school year have since decided to switch over to virtual learning for the second quarter, which began Nov. 2.
He said about 20 high school students have switched from attending school in person to attending virtually.
“I think with the growing number of cases in Wisconsin, more high school students are going to virtual learning,” the superintendent said.
Gottinger said the the number of middle school and elementary school students who have gone from in-classroom learning to virtual learning also has increased, but he did not have exact figures.
“There’s less movement there,” Gottinger said. “There’s an increasing number of students going to virtual learning, but it’s not as large.”
Gottinger said students still can switch from in-classroom learning to virtual learning, but they cannot switch from virtual learning to in-classroom learning until the beginning of the third quarter, which is Jan. 25.
District officials have implemented several safety measures since the beginning of the school year including providing face masks for students and staff, establishing social distancing guidelines, providing more hand washing stations in the schools and limiting the number of non-essential visitors in the school buildings.
Lake Geneva schools recently received a $2,500 grant from the Kara Foundation to purchase face masks and additional safety equipment.
Officials from the United Way of Walworth County donated several boxes of face masks to the schools in mid-October.
Tammy Dunn, executive director for United Way of Walworth County, said the organization has received a total of 55,000 face masks from the United Way of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Emergency Management since September.
Dunn said the United Way organization donated face masks to Walworth County schools in October. She said the number of masks that each school received was based on student population.
“There’s a lot of pressure on the schools to provide masks,” Dunn said. “Some students don’t have masks or they take them off during the day and lose them. If we’re able to help, we’re thrilled to do that.”
The United Way of Walworth County also has donated face masks to nonprofit organizations, libraries and medical offices.
“We’re able to support the community and supply people with masks,” Dunn said. “Some are disposable, and some are cloth masks with face coverings.”
Dunn said the United Way of Walworth County still has face masks available for schools or organizations that still need them. For more information, call 262-374-4474.
“We will keep giving them out until they’re gone,” she said.
Dunn said she will order more face masks if they are still needed during the upcoming months.
“The need is great,” Dunn said. “Some people don’t have masks or they don’t have access to a clean mask. Some people have been wearing the same mask for months.”
Editor’s note: This is a continuously evolving situation. Continue to check with the district and go to lakegenevanews.net to stay updated.
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