COVID Updates for Wisconsin Educators
Our top priority is keeping students safely learning in classrooms. Wisconsin has the tools to make it happen.
Through WEAC, educators have demanded what our students need to be safe – starting with the WEAC Safe & Healthy Schools Plan at the beginning of the school year. Since then, our union has continued to advocate on behalf of our members, including more masks and nurses, pauses on Educator Effectiveness and instructional minute requirements and even a state-funded sick leave bank so no educator is forced to use up her sick leave while quarantining or caring for his family.
Here’s what you should know:
Our Position: WEAC believes everyone in schools should be masked to keep in-person learning happening. Our union called upon the state to provide at least one N95 mask per day for every public school employee for the remainder of the school year after public health experts made it clear that cloth masks are no longer acceptable for preventing the spread of COVID, especially in schools.
Update: Districts that need N95/KN95 masks for students and staff can request them from the Department of Health Services (DHS). District Mask Request Form
Our Position: WEAC supports vaccinations for all who are eligible and encourages school-based vaccination and booster clinics.
Update: DHS is offering support for school-based clinics. District Request Form
Our Position: WEAC supports school-based testing programs to support schools in making decisions.
Update: DHS has received federal funding to support school-based COVID-19 testing for teachers, staff, students, and their families for the 2021-2022 school year. District Testing Request Form
Our Position: WEAC has called for a pause in Educator Effectiveness as it is impossible for educators to fulfill all EE requirements when moving between on-line and in-person learning, along with the high rates of absenteeism and substitute teaching circumstances.
Update: School districts can receive waivers for Educator Effectiveness requirements. Waiver Form
Our Position: WEAC has called for waivers to requirements of instructional minutes for the 2021-22 school year so districts can more successfully transition between in-person and virtual instruction. Waivers allow staff the necessary time to deep clean schools, convert lessons to on-line or in-person, ensure technology and make sure other resources are in place.
Result: Districts have the option to apply for waivers to meet the required number of instructional minutes for the school year. Waiver Form
Our Position: WEAC has called upon the state to create a sick leave bank to cover time lost to the pandemic by public education employees so front-line school employees are not forced to use up our sick leave accounts for quarantining and risk losing income or earned benefits.
Update: Our union continues to be in discussions with top officials on funding a statewide sick leave bank. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has called upon districts to:
- Implement and encourage paid sick leave (time off) policies and enact practices for staff that are flexible and non-punitive.
- Maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member.
- Consider not requiring a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work.
ISOLATION & QUARANTINING
Our Position: WEAC believes isolation and quarantining procedures should be based on science.
Update: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has shortened the recommended length of isolation from ten days to five days for people with COVID-19 who do not have symptoms or are improving after five days, followed by five days of wearing a well-fitting mask. CDC Guidelines
NURSES IN EVERY SCHOOL
Our Position: WEAC has long called for nursing services in all schools.
Update: The state education and health departments are providing funding to support school nursing programs. DHS has hired a school health liaison and will release more information soon.