Wisconsin Parents Suing School Districts Over Their Kids' COVID Infections

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One parent’s complaint noted that the district “threw students into a COVID-19 ‘snake pit'” by “recklessly refusing” to protect them from the virus

Now that we’re well into the third academic year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s unimaginable that the mask debate continues to rage on, especially at the expense of students’ health and safety. Wisconsin parents whose children contracted the virus are now fighting back, filing lawsuits against two respective school districts and arguing that school officials did not adequately protect their kids from becoming infected.

Last week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that parents from the K-12 Waukesha School District had filed a lawsuit against the Waukesha School District and school board after officials lifted the district’s mask mandate and other COVID-19 mitigation measures back in May.

In the suit, Shannon Jensen, a parent of three, shared that a classmate of her oldest son had come to school in mid-September with COVID symptoms for two days before being sent home, with the sick classmate reportedly not wearing a mask on the bus or in school. Her son developed symptoms within days, and her two younger sons later tested positive as well, missing out on school and extracurricular activities as a result of their quarantine.

Jensen’s attorney said she received “delayed notifications” when students in her son’s classes had tested positive, and the district implemented no consistent quarantine or contact tracing measures. Because of a lack of COVID safety efforts, Jensen argues that the school district and board are “knowing, needlessly, unreasonably and recklessly exposing the public” to the virus by holding in-person classes “without adequate COVID-19 mitigation.” So far, Waukesha School District officials have declined to comment on the suit.

Yesterday, parent Gina Kildahl filed a separate complaint against the Fall Creek School District, 200 miles away from Waukesha, arguing that school officials are “recklessly refusing” to implement COVID safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommend universal masking indoors for students and staffers, regardless of vaccination status.

“By bringing students back to class around unmasked staff, re-instituting extracurricular activities, and allowing potentially contagious visitors and volunteers into the schools without masks, FCSD and the board threw students into a COVID-19 ‘snake pit,'” read Kildahl’s complaint.

Kildahl told CNN her son tested positive in late September after being in close contact with an infected student who did not wear a mask. Though he did not present with symptoms, Kildahl said she is worried about the long-term effects of the virus, which remain largely unknown at this point.

“I am just hoping that they will start masking and take some responsibility to keep our kids safe at school,” Kildahl said. “On my school’s website, on all of their board documentation, they say that they want to provide a safe place to learn. And I think that to do that, especially with the Delta variant out there, they need to start masking kids.”

While we’re glad both Jensen and Kildahl’s children appear to have made a full recovery from the virus, there are so many children out there still at risk in schools. School officials, please: Do better.