LAKE MILLS — Lake Mills High School closed for the rest of this week after a third student tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday morning.
Students now will learn virtually until classes start again next week at the school.
“According to the guidance we sent to families in fall, we will be immediately shifting to virtual instruction until Monday, Sept. 21 at the high school level only. This will allow the district to deep clean and disinfect the building and mitigate further spread,” said Dr. Tonya Olson, district administrator of the Lake Mills Area School District.
The elementary and middle schools are continuing to operate as normal because there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in these locations. Olson said that if anything changes at the other schools, families will be notified.
“The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. I am confident in the work our staff has done to provide a seamless transition between learning environments,” she said.
This comes as the University of Wisconsin System has been fighting outbreaks of the virus at campuses throughout the state, with UW-Madison going online only for two weeks as more than 2,200 students are quarantined in two dormitories.
More cases of the virus are hitting UW-Whitewater, with 139 students testing positive last week and another 29 so far this week. No changes have been made at the campus for in-person learning.
UW-Whitewater reports the cases to regional health departments in the three counties in which the campus is located: Walworth, Jefferson and Rock.
Ben Van Haren, Jefferson County Health Department’s lead contact tracer and liaison to UW-Whitewater, said that not all the numbers are part of the total for one specific county. The bulk go to Walworth County, with the second most to Jefferson County.
Also, if a student puts his or her parent’s address when being tested, the county calls the student to correct the address for their residence at UW-Whitewater.
“So, the cases do end up in the proper jurisdiction where they are currently living/getting sick; it can just take a bit longer to get those where they need to be,” he said.
The university also meets with the three counties to go over the campus’ COVID-19 pandemic response, where they are at with testing, isolation and contact tracing.
Since the start of the pandemic in March, there have been 91,304 people to test positive for the virus in Wisconsin.
On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported another 1,348 cases in the state. That is the sixth day in which more than 1,300 cases were reported since the start of in-person classes at colleges and universities across the state.
There have been 1,097 cases reported in Jefferson County since March. The National Guard last weekend completed 545 tests at Jefferson County Fair Park, the third time it had conducted testing at that site.
Meanwhile, to help fight the coronavirus, Lake Mills community organizations have launched a new campaign “Keep COVID Out!”
Several local organizations joined forces to ask for the entire Lake Mills community to commit to the three W’s: Watch your distance, wash your hands and wear a face covering.
“Keeping our schools open is best for kids and we are all about kids,” said Dave Wendt, a member of the Lake Mills Optimist Club.
Elsewhere, Chicago officials cautioned city residents Tuesday about travel to Wisconsin, citing a recent COVID-19 spike in Illinois’ neighbor to the north.
The Chicago Department of Public Health stopped short of adding Wisconsin to a travel advisory list. There are 16 states on the list, including Utah, which was announced Tuesday. City officials said that with some exceptions, Chicago residents who travel to the states must quarantine for two weeks upon return. Visitors from those states are expected to quarantine while in Chicago.
Wisconsin was previously on Chicago’s list in July and removed the following month when cases dropped. On Sunday, Wisconsin reported its highest one-day case count with 1,582 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and a 21-percent positive test rate. The overall seven-day average for positive tests that week was 14 percent.
Meanwhile, Illinois reported 1,466 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 20 additional deaths. Illinois’ seven-day average of positive tests is 3.6%. Overall, Illinois has reported 264,210 cases and 8,332 deaths.
Also Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced $220 million in grants for small businesses hit hard by the pandemic. Another $25 million will be available for businesses damaged during recent civil unrest. Applications will be available later this week.
As the virus continues to keep jobless rates high, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday the U.S. House of Representatives will remain in session until lawmakers deliver another round of COVID-19 relief, a move that came as Democrats from swing districts signaled discontent with a standoff that could force them to face voters without delivering more aid.
“We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement, an agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said on CNBC.