Markesan district to take fall break amid ‘dramatic rise in confirmed and probable cases’ of COVID-19 at its schools

Coronavirus graphic

MARKESAN, Wis. — A school district in Green Lake County is taking a fall break following a “dramatic rise in confirmed and probable cases of the Covid-19 at all of our schools,” according to an announcement.

Markesan District Schools said on its website Thursday that it would take a break of about a week starting Friday and lasting through Sept. 27.

“This break will be to get healthy and follow safe practices,” the district said. “It will not be a virtual learning week. We will be adjusting the calendar if necessary to address required minutes of instruction.”

The district said the decision to take a fall break was made with input from the Green Lake County Health, which will also help the district monitor cases and spread.

Markesan District Schools said it addressed cleaning, mitigation and virtual options for quarantined students in its return-to-school plan, “but the large uptick in cases have stressed our system for staffing. In conjunction with Green Lake County Health, we feel that this week to ‘break’ face to face contact can set us up for better in-person and if necessary, virtual learning experiences moving forward through 2020.”

Athletic activities, including practice and events, are also canceled starting Thursday afternoon through Sept. 27, the announcement said.

According to the announcement, students who have been told to quarantine should stay safe at home. Other students should follow health practices like social distancing, hand washing and safe decision-making.

Staff will be working during the fall break week to deep clean schools, adapt practices to continue to mitigate close contact and ensure that virtual and in-person instruction are ready to meet student needs.

“One concern we have observed since school has returned for in-person instruction is to be vigilant about screening your children prior to coming to school,” the district said. Officials asked parents and caregivers to keep children home and get advice from a health care provider on testing if children show COVID-19 symptoms.

“We are making this decision to ensure safety for all in our Markesan School District Family,” the announcement said. “This break is our best effort to stop the spread and make the effort so that we can continue with strong in-person/virtual instruction with appropriate staffing and resources.”

According to the announcement, common symptoms that are being noted in the Markesan cases are persistent cough, fatigue or tiredness, loss of taste or smell, headache, body aches, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea and sore throat. School officials said fever has not been a hallmark symptom of its students, but it should also be considered.

The district said lunch will be available during the break, and any families taking part will need to email by 10 a.m. Monday to request meals.