Governor orders schools to close indefinitely

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Governor Evers this afternoon (March 17) held a news conference, saying early in his remarks that he would be “expanding the school closure order until further notice.” Prior to today’s announcement, the school closure order was until April 6. WEAC will keep our members posted on developments. Specifically, the order states:

“Effective at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 all public and private schools and institutions of higher education in the State of Wisconsin shall close for instructional and extracurricular activities at 5 p.m. Such institutions shall remain closed for the duration of the public health emergency or until a subsequent order lifts this specific restriction.”

The Evers administration also:

  • Ordered bars and restaurants closed to in-house patrons and a more restrictive ban on mass gatherings in an escalating response to the coronavirus outbreak. The new restriction, effective this afternoon, will ban gatherings of 10 or more people after the administration yesterday ordered a ban on crowds of 50 or more.

  • Open talks with Legislative leaders as soon as tomorrow (March 18) to discuss a package of legislation, including a plan to repeal a one-week waiting period for laid-off workers to begin collecting unemployment after they first file for the benefits. Officials noted the ban on gatherings over 10 people does not apply to the Legislature or courts. Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald postponed the March Senate floor session, indicating the Legislature will call an extraordinary session this spring so the Senate can complete its business.

  • Issue an order tomorrow modifying work and work search requirements for those on unemployment to address the impact of the coronavirus on the state’s workforce.

Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm also said on the call the state is now prioritizing testing because the rapid increase in the number of requests sent to labs has resulted in a shortage of the ingredients needed to process them.

April 7 elections
Governor Evers said while the spread of COVID-19 in light of the coming election is a big concern, as more than 10 people would be congregating, that democracy has to continue. He added that Wisconsin’s absentee ballot system is one of the best in America and said his goal is to get as many absentee ballots cast as possible.