‘Children are our most precious resource’: Nearly 500 pediatricians sign open letter calling for COVID-19 safety precautions

MADISON, Wis. — Nearly 500 pediatricians and other health care workers have signed an open letter urging schools and parents to follow COVID-19 safety protocols to keep kids safe this school year.

The open letter includes calls for masking, social distancing when possible, and vaccinations for everyone who is eligible. The call comes as COVID-19 cases among children have reached levels not seen since the winter surge.

On Tuesday, COVID-19 deaths in Wisconsin reached their highest peak since January as the delta variant continues to spread. Hospitals throughout Madison, while not at capacity, are also filling quickly due to the variant.

“Children are our most precious resource, and we must do everything we can to keep them safe as they return to the classroom,” said Dr. Ellen Wald, chair of the department of pediatrics, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and infectious disease physician at UW Health. “In-person learning is important for our children. This letter is all about how we can work together – parents, teachers, schools and healthcare providers – to have a safe and positive return to school this year.”

Read the full letter below.:

“As healthcare providers and physicians, we have dedicated our lives to protecting and improving the health of children throughout Wisconsin and our many communities.

As this latest surge of COVID-19 converges with the start of school, we are presented with a new and critical challenge. Our children reap great benefits from a return to in-person schooling. But we must ensure that those schools are safe.

The good news is we can do this. We’ve learned so much over the last year about this virus — prevention, treatment and how we can manage our facilities and our interactions to avoid rapid spread. That knowledge presents us with a clear path forward.

The challenge is, we can only do it by working together.

Our children don’t have a say over what school district policies will be. And most of our children don’t yet have access to the added protection of a vaccine. That’s why it is so important that school boards, school administrators, teachers and parents come together behind a few simple, science-based and tested methods to bring our kids safely back into the classroom.

  • We need to mask up. Studies show that universal masking prevents the spread of COVID-19, and masks are safe for children as young as 2 years old. Universal masking allows for modified quarantining in certain cases, which should increase in-person attendance. It is simply the most important thing we can do right now to ensure that our schools are safe.
  • Maintain 3 feet of distance between people whenever possible. Whether it’s in classrooms, hallways or buses, a small amount of physical distancing goes a long way in preventing spread of the virus. Where distancing is not possible, mask wearing is increasingly important.
  • Those who can get vaccinated should get vaccinated. That includes parents, teachers, staff and all those children age 12 and up. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, they are effective and they are the most powerful tool we have in our efforts to end this long pandemic.
  • Follow simple public health recommendations. Wash your hands, cover your coughs and keep your kids home if they’re sick.

Our children need to be in school. And our schools need to be safe for our children. We know it can be done with great effect and without great disruption.

It may seem like these pandemic restrictions will be around forever, but they won’t. We will get past this. But until we do, our hopes lie with all of you and with our ability to work together on a safe, happy and effective return to school.

Signed,

Ellen Wald, Madison

Michael Gutzeit, Milwaukee

Aaron Wieland, Madison

Abby Neisius, Madison

Adam Bauer, Madison

Adam Brinkman, Madison

Adam Kney, Madison

Adam Wallace, Madison

Agnes Kanikula, Prairie du Sac

Ahmed Afifi, Madison

Aimee Becker, Madison

Alanna Kessler-Jones, Madison

Alexander Lepak, Madison

Alexander Raskin, Milwaukee

Alexandra Schultz, Madison

Alfredo Mendoza, Janesville

Alicia Plummer, Madison

Alina Burek, Milwaukee

Alison Brooks, Madison

Alison Craig-Shashko, Madison

Allison Lindell, Madison

Allison Remiker, Milwaukee

Amanda Eells, Madison

Ambar Haleem, Madison

Amber Shada, Madison

Amy Basarich, Madison

Amy Dresen, Madison

Amy Falk, Wisconsin Rapids

Amy Fogarty, Sturgeon Bay

Amy Johnson, Monroe

Amy Kaleka, Madison

Amy Koepke, Woodruff

Amy Peterson, Middleton

Amy Plumb, Madison

Amye Tevaarwerk, Madison

Andrea Carberry, Neenah

Andrea Chao, Lodi

Andrew Lewandowski, Madison

Andrew Waclawik, Madison

Angela Gatzke-Plamann, Necedah

Angela Gibson, Madison

Anika Nelson, Whitefish Bay

Ankush Bhatia, Madison

Ann Allen, Madison

Ann Behrmann, Madison

Ann Evensen, Verona

Anne Jordan, Sturgeon Bay

Anne Marsh, Madison

Anne Singh, Madison

Anthony Garcia-Prats, Madison

Arjang Djamali, Cross Plains

Arnold Wald, Madison

Ashley Flannery, Green Bay

Barb Johnson-Giese, Sturgeon Bay

Barbara Coulter-Smith, Minocqua

Barbara Fischer, Madison

Ben Zarzaur, Madison

Beth Drolet, Whitefish Bay

Beth Smith, Madison

Beth Van Den Langenberg, Madison

Betsy Peterson, Beaver Dam

Bikash Pattnaik, Madison

Brad Beinlich, Madison

Brad Gietman, Madison

Brenna Redemann, Madison

Brett J Bordini, Wauwatosa

Brian Stamm, Madison

Brian Williams, Madison

Brianna Schumacher, Madison

Bridget Johnson, Deforest

Brittany Allen, Madison

Brittany Player, Wauwatosa

Brooks Rademacher, Madison

Cami Matthews, Madison

Camila Khan, Madison

Carol Diamond, Madison

Carolyn Rank, Madison

Carolyn Sleeth, Madison

Carrie Cichy-Krantz, Belleville

Cassie Meffert, Waunakee

Catharine Garland, Madison

Catherine Ferguson, Milwaukee

Catherine Reiser, Madison

Catherine Stevens, Madison

Cathy Beckman, cross plains

Cathy Lee-Miller, Madison

Chad Ennis, Middleton

Charles Acher, Madison

Charles Bergstrom, Madison

Charles Leys, Madison

Charles Shutt, Sturgeon Bay

Chet Price, Wisconsin Rapids

Christie Bartels, Madison

Christine Pagel, Madison

Christine Seroogy, Madison

Christine Zimmerman, Madison

Christopher Crnich, Madison

Cindy Henry, Minocqua

Claudia Vicetti, Milwaukee

Corrine Voils, Madison

Craig Flinders, Nekoosa

D. Philip Cheng, Mequon

Dan Beardmore, Janesville

Dan Zepplin, Madison

Dana Johnson, Madison

Daniel Abbott, Verona

Daniel Bennett, Madison

Daniel Crocetti, Madison

Daniel O’Connell, Madison

David Allen, Madison

David Andes, Madison

David Francis, Madison

David Hsu, Madison

David Rakel, Madison

David Ringdahl, Madison

David Sonetti, Madison

David Upton, Madison

David Wargowski, Madison

Dawd Siraj, Madison

Dawn Elfenbein, Madison

Deborah Marble, Madison

Deborah Thums, Madison

Deepak Gopal, Madison

Delora Mount, Madison

Dennis Maki, Madison

Devashish Joshi, Madison

Dipesh Navsaria, Madison

Dixon Kaufman, Madison

Dominic Co, Middleton

Dorene Dempster, Sturgeon Bay

Eileen Jekot, Appleton

Elaine Rosenblatt, Madison

Elena Alfaro, Madison

Elizabeth Cox, Fitchburg

Elizabeth Gaida, Sturgeon Bay

Elizabeth Lucht, Madison

Elizabeth Mellott, Wisconsin Rapids

Elizabeth Petty, Madison

Elizabeth Roe, Madison

Elizabeth Trowbridge, Madison

Ellen Connor, Madison

Ellen Knipfer, Sturgeon Bay

Emily Ruedinger, Madison

Emma Mohr, Madison

Eric Warbasse, Prairie du Sac

Erick Tarula, Madison

Eugene Foley, Madison

Eva Allen, Cross Plains

Evelyn Tunnell, Madison

Francis Claire Natividad, Wisconsin Rapids

Gail Allen, Madison

Gemma Warner, Madison

Gloria Morel, Madison

Gregory DeMuri, Madison

Gretchen Winandy, Black Earth

H. Clay Dean, Prairie du Sac

Hamid Emamekhoo, Madison

Hara Levy, Denver

Hayley Mann, Madison

Heather Neuman, Madison

Heather Paradis, Milwaukee

Heather Peto, Madison

Heidi Derbick, Sturgeon Bay

Hrissanthi Ikonomidou, Madison

Ian Koszewski, Madison

Ian Robins, Madison

Jacqueline Murtha, Madison

James Cole, Madison

James Conway, Madison

James Gern, Madison

James Heise, Sturgeon Bay

James Stadler, Madison

James Stein, Madison

Jane Churpek, Madison

Janelle Hupp, Prairie du Sac

Janna Klein, Madison

Jeffrey Pothof, Madison

Jenna Kolodziej, Stevens Point

Jennifer Burns, Green Bay

Jennifer Hadjiev, Wauwatosa

Jennifer Kwon, Madison

Jennifer Liter, Madison

Jennifer Lochner, Belleville

Jennifer Reckner, Madison

Jennifer Rehm, Madison

Jennifer Szmanda, Appleton

Jennifer Trott, Madison

Jenny Pleva, Verona

Jeremy Kratz, Madison

Jess Babal, Madison

Jessica Baker, Madison

Jessica Bekker, Prairie du Sac

Jessica Scott Schwoerer, Madison

Jessica Tischendorf, Madison

Jessica Wallis-Bhyravabotla, Madison

Jillian Landeck, Madison

Jocelyn Wilke, Madison

John Ackah, Sun Prairie

John Frohna, Waunakee

John Hokanson, Madison

John McAuliffe, Prairie Du Sac

John Stratton, Madison

Jonathan Roe, Janesville

Joseph McBride, Madison

Joseph Rebhan, Baileys Harbor

Joshua Lang, Madison

Joshua Ross, Madison

Julie Gocey, Verona

Justin Endo, Madison

Kaitlin Kamer, Madison

Kane Laks, Madison

Karen Pletta, Stoughton

Karen Reed, Madison

Kari Hegeman, Madison

Kari Weier, Madison

Kari Wisinski, Madison

Karoline Canada, Madison

Kate Amond, Madison

Kate Swenson, Madison

Katherine Gast, Madison

Katherine Lemon, Madison

Katherine Mijal, Madison

Katherine Moriarty, Madison

Katherine O’Rourke, Elroy

Kathleen Antony, Madison

Kathleen Maginot, Madison

Kathleen Shannon, Madison

Kathryn Less, Madison

Kathryn Schmit, Madison

Katie Bleier, Madison

Katie Peterman, Madison

Katie Rebedew, Monroe

Katie Stadler, Madison

Katy Guralski, Wausau

Kelly Hodgson Kline, Tomah

Kelly McGregory, Madison

Kelly Mommaerts, Madison

Kelsy Kellermann, Green Bay

Kent MacLaughlin, Madison

Kevin Dahlman, Milwaukee

Kia Mills, Madison

Kim Kantor, Madison

Kim Squires, Madison

Kirstin Nackers, Madison

Kokpeng Yu, Madison

Krisjon Olson, Madison

Krista Grinde, Madison

Kristan Sodergren, Madison

Kristen Holland, Milwaukee

Kristen Marten, Madison

Kristin Friedl, Madison

Kristin Long, Madison

Kristin Seaborg, Madison

Kristin Shadman, Madison

Kristine Matson, Madison

Kristine Matysiak, Sturgeon Bay

Larry Elfman, Madison

Laura Birkeland, Madison

Laura Hancock, Madison

Laura Houser, Madison

Laura Zakowski, Madison

Laurel Rice, Madison

Lauren Dallman, Madison

Lauren Kacvinsky, Madison

Lauren Watson, Madison

Lawrence Leibert, Wisconsin Rapids

Lee Wilke, Madison

Leon Radant, Mauston

Leslie Strand, Verona

Liana Eskola, Madison

Lindsay Geier, Monroe

Lisa Arkin, Madison

Lisa Barry, Plover

Lisa Olson, Wisconsin Rapids

Louella Amos, Milwaukee

Luke Bradbury, Madison

Luke Fortney, Spring Green

Luke Funk, Waunakee

Luke Zurbriggen, Madison

Lynn Kohlmeier, Menasha

Lynn Schnapp, Madison

M. Chona Antonio, Sturgeon Bay

M. Tracy Bekx, Verona

Mahgen Kruse, Madison

Mala Mathur, Madison

Malcolm DeCamp, Monona

Marc Grodsky, De Pere

Marcus Chacon, Madison

Margaret Alvarez, Woodruff

Margaret Greco, Madison

Margaret Nolan, Madison

Margo Hoover-Regan, Madison

Margo Reeder, Madison

Maria Rosa, Madison

Maria Stanley, Madison

Mark Burkard, Madison

Mark Moss, Madison

Mark Wirtz, Verona

Mary Bartel, Neenah

Mary Beth Henry, Madison

Mary Ehlenbach, Madison

Masaru Furukawa, Spring Green

Matt Theado, DePere

Matthew Harer, Madison

Matthew Lambert, Madison

Matthew Lister, Middleton

Meaghan Trainor, Madison

Megan Berube, Madison

Megan Buechter, Madison

Megan Derrer, Deerfield

Megan Gendel, Madison

Megan Mahaffey, Madison

Megan Neuman, Madison

Megan Peters, Madison

Megan Yanny, Verona

Meghan Lubner, Madison

Meiying Liang, Mequon

Melanie Nelson, Madison

Melinda Chen, Madison

Melissa Novotny, Madison

Meriel Rongstad, Madison

Michael Hansen, Madison

Michael Kim, Madison

Michael Lucey, Madison

Michael Pomroy, Madison

Michael Puricelli, Madison

Michael Ritter, Madison

Michael Rock, Madison

Michael Sloan, Madison

Michael Stephen Meyn, Madison

Michelle Brenner, Madison

Michelle Ciucci, Madison

Michelle Hill, De Pere

Michelle Kelly, Madison

Mihaela Bazalakova, Madison

Misti Lavin, Minocqua

Mohamed Hamdan, Madison

Molly Russell, Sun prairie

Moniba Nazeef, Madison

Murielle Hsu, Madison

Nan Sethakorn, Madison

Nasia Safdar, Madison

Nassima Baba-ahmed Fertikh, Madison

Natalie Callander, Madison

Natalie Wheeler, Madison

Natasha Frost, Madison

Nathan Grunewald, Prairie du Sac

Neil Paloian, Madison

Nicholas Kuehnel, Madison

Nick Von Bergen, Madison

Nicole Baumann-Blackmore, Madison

Nicole Christian, Madison

Nicole St Clair, Madison

Nina Menda, Madison

Nizar Jarjour, Madison

Patricia Deffner-Valley, Madison

Patricia Kasper, Appleton

Paul Board, Sturgeon Bay

Paul Horvath, Menomonie

Paul Hunter, Madison

Paul Neary, Fort Atkinson

Paul Sondel, Madison

Pelin Cengiz, Madison

Perry Krumenacher, Wauwatosa

Peter Havens, Wauwatosa

Peter Newcomer, Madison

Peter Nichol, Madison

Petros Anagnostopoulos, Madison

Qiang Chang, Madison

Rachael Ellis, DePere

Rachel Petro, McFarland

Rebecca Minter, Madison

Reem Almomani, Madison

Regis Chamberlin, Wisconsin Rapids

Rhiannon Talbot, Madison

Richard A. Hogan, Sturgeon Bay

Richard Pauli, Madison

Richard Reich, Madison

Richard Reich, Madison

Richard Shoskey, Wonewoc

Robert Golden, Madison

Robert Steiner, Marshfield

Robyn LaBarge, Menomonee Falls

Robyn Paloian, Middleton

Robyn Weilbaker, Washington Island

Rodney Erickson, Tomah

Rosanna Fiallo-Scharer, Milwaukee

Rose Staden, Madison

Russell Lemmon, Madison

Ryan Bender, Columbus

Ryan Coller, Madison

Ryan Mattison, Madison

Ryan Plamann, Mauston

Sabrina Butteris, Madison

Sally Johannsen, Madison

Sam Lubner, Madison

Samantha Erie, Wonewoc

Sanjay Asthana, Madison

Santhi Logel, Madison

Sara Burghaus, Woodruff

Sara Kreckman, Madison

Sara Lauck, Wauwatosa

Sarah Bauer, Milwaukee

Sarah Campbell, Appleton

Sarah Schlueter, Madison

Sarah Vepraskas, Milwaukee

Sarah Yale, Wauwatosa

Saurabh Rajguru, Madison

Schuyler Barraclough, Madison

Scott Chaiet, Madison

Shane Allen, Madison

Shane Colvin, Sturgeon Bay

Shardha Srinivasan, Madison

Sharon Weber, Madison

Shawn Koval, Madison

Shawn Lerch, Sauk City

Shawyon Shadman, Madison

Shea Lues, Madison

Sheryl Henderson, Madison

Shilpa Ullikashi, De Pere

Siobhan Byrne, Madison

Stefanie Sippl, Fitchburg

Stephanie Betts, Belleville

Stephanie Handler, Milwaukee

Stephen Lo, Fitchburg

Stephen Nakada, Madison

Steve Marshall, Madison

Sumer Wallace, Madison

Sushant Srinivasan, Madison

Suzanne Wright, Marshfield

Syed Masood, Madison

Taylor Boland, Madison

Teresa Mangin, Madison

Teresa W, Madison

Thomas Murwin, Stoughton

Thomas Pasic, Madison

Thomas Zdeblivk, Madison

Tiffany Glazer, Madison

Timothy Livett, Madison

TingChang Hsieh, Madison

Toby Campbell, Madison

Todd McKenzie, Appleton

Tom Brazelton, Madison

Tony Kille, Madison

Tony Peterangelo, Madison

Trish Paris, Belleville

Tyler Light, Madison

Tyler Sternhagen, Madison

Vaishalee Kenkre, Madison

Valerie Gilchrist, Madison

Valerie Hay, Stevens Point

Vic Weiss, Madison

Vinay Goswamy, Madison

Vivek Balasubramaniam, Middleton

Wendy Coleman, Madison

Wendy Sue Swanson, Madison

William Kasper, Appleton

Yvonne Chiu, Milwaukee

Zachary Meyer, Hillsboro

Zachary Smith, Madison