August 27, 2021
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683

Keeping Kids Safe During Back to School

As cases rise, DHS and DPI urge districts and schools to follow COVID-19 guidance

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and Department of Public Instruction (DPI) have released guidance on strategies districts and schools can use to best protect students during in-person learning this school year.

“As a parent planning for this school year, it’s great to see so many schools and districts taking steps to keep students, teachers, and staff safe by enrolling in our COVID-19 testing program. I encourage parents to sign those testing consent forms, and if you haven’t seen one yet, reach out to your schools and make sure they’re involved in the program,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “I also encourage everyone who can get vaccinated to do it right away. The Delta variant is highly infectious, and getting vaccinated is part of what we all need to do to stop the spread and protect our children, and their opportunity to participate fully in school and school activities this upcoming academic year.”

Cases of COVID-19 are continuing to rise in Wisconsin, as they are across the country, driven by the highly the highly-infectious Delta variant. The Delta variant now represents almost all sequenced tests in Wisconsin. Despite this increase in cases, we can take steps to keep COVID-19 from spreading in our schools by following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHS, and DPI. Along with enrolling in the testing program, we strongly recommend all teachers, staff, and eligible students get vaccinated, everyone wear masks in indoor school settings, and districts and schools enroll in the K-12 School Testing Program.

As Wisconsin schools take these steps, DHS also urges Wisconsin families to take the steps necessary to protect themselves and their communities: mask up when indoors or outside where physical distancing is not possible, get vaccinated if you’re eligible (age 12 and over), and get tested and stay home if you’re experiencing any symptoms.

“Districts and schools can use our joint guidance as a roadmap for a safe return to in-person schooling; the asks are simple, and the rewards are great,” said Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jill Underly. “Wear a mask when inside buildings. Get vaccinated if you’re able to. Maintain safe distancing when possible.”

To find a vaccine provider near you, visit or call 211. As part of the $100 COVID-19 Vaccine Reward Program, anyone age 12 and older who receives their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine between August 20 and September 6 is eligible for a $100 U.S. Bank Rewards card. The Guidelines for the Prevention, Investigation, and Control of COVID-19 Outbreaks in K-12 Schools in Wisconsin are available on the DHS website, and COVID-19 Infection Control and Mitigation Measures for Wisconsin Schools are available on the DPI website.

For other resources to help parents and guardians navigate the return to school, check out the newly launched Back to School for Parents and Families webpage with information about routine vaccinations, access to health and dental care, potential health-related conditions from diabetes to asthma to COVID-19, and resources to help children stay emotionally healthy.