Madison mom, epidemiologist asks public health department to tighten restrictions to get kids back in school

MADISON, Wis. — A mom in Madison is calling on the public health department to tighten restrictions in Dane County so students can return to the classroom by the end of the year.

Mother and epidemiologist Malia Jones said it was a challenge to handle virtual school in the spring, and when the Madison Metropolitan School District announced it would be starting the school year virtually she had to speak up.

“The way things stand it’s not safe to open schools, and also the most important thing we need to do is open schools,” Jones said. “So we really have to get control of the outbreak in the community.”

To get that control, she wrote a letter to the Dane County Board of Health, asking for the health department to immediately close down non-essential businesses and gatherings.

Without control of the spread, she worries school won’t return to the classroom this year.

“I really feel like that’s a major misstep in terms of managing the outbreak,” Jones said. “We should be prioritizing kids in school over just about everything else.”

So far hundreds have signed on to back up her suggestion, but she’s concerned about what happens if no one really listens.

“Another quarter or even full academic year of virtual learning is going to have huge equity implications,” Jones said. “And that this will just turn into a moment in history when the most privileged people get even further ahead.”

Public Health Madison and Dane County did not return a request for comment.