March 18, 2021

UW Health Offers Advice for Families as More In-Person Classes Resume Across Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin - Life has been different for everyone over the last year.

For school-aged children, that difference has been particularly stark when it comes to virtual learning. Experts have learned a lot since March 2020, and as more Wisconsin school districts resume in-person classes, UW Health pediatricians are sharing information and tips families should know.

  • In-school transmission of COVID-19 is uncommon when mitigating measures such as symptom screening, consistent mask wearing, frequent hand washing, and physical distancing, are in place and adhered to at all times.

  • K-12 schools have not been shown to drive community spread and are often at more risk from spread in their community than the community is from spread in the schools. Therefore, it is everyone's responsibility to keep community spread low by continuing to wear masks, wash hands, and get the vaccine when it is available. This will help enable schools to stay open and prevent closures due to exposures.

  • While school-related guidance over the pandemic has included recommendations for 6 feet of distancing, emerging evidence, including a large statewide study from Massachusetts, suggests that 3-foot distancing does not increase chances of in-school transmission compared to 6 feet. Given the practical limitations in school settings, this safety information is important in helping us to understand how to safely bring more children back into school settings.

  • Families should continue to avoid gatherings of students outside of school. It is still unwise to hold sleepovers, birthday parties or other social events that do not have strict mitigating measures in place. Student-athletes must be vigilant with masks during and after sports.

"Schools are a fundamental pillar of support for children and play a critical role in their health and well-being," said Dr. Gregory Demuri, UW Health pediatrician, infectious disease specialist and medical advisor for the Madison Metropolitan School District. "It has been a relief to see that our worries about COVID and schools have not come to pass and have learned how to safely get kids and teachers back in the classrooms. It takes just a minute in any classroom to see the big smiles behind the masks shining through."


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