Parents are suing two school districts over their coronavirus safety protocols, claiming the officials did not do enough to protect their children from getting infected with the virus.
Two separate lawsuits by two different parents – Shannon Jensen and Gina Kildahl, who both have children who tested positive for Covid-19 after getting exposed at school – tell similar stories.
Last year, their children in Wisconsin were required to mask up in class, but that was not the case this year even as the highly contagious Delta variant made its way through classrooms.
The first lawsuit, filed in federal court last week by Jensen, is against the Waukesha School District, the Waukesha Board of Education, a number of school board members and district employees, court documents show.
Kildahl on Monday filed a separate complaint against the Fall Creek School District. It alleges that the school district, its board, its superintendent and individual board members are ‘recklessly refusing’ to implement coronavirus mitigation strategies that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended, CNN reported.
‘By bringing students back to class around unmasked staff, reinstituting 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” creating an affirmative duty to keep their students safe from Covid-19,’ her complaint read.
Both school boards voted to end many of the pandemic policies that were put into place last year, the lawsuits allege, including slashing the mandatory mask requirement.
The CDC has recommended that all students, teachers and staff wear a mask indoors regardless of their vaccination status. These measures have not been mandated across the board, though many districts have decided to still follow the CDC’s guidance when it comes to masking.
Kildahl’s son tested positive for Covid-19 after being in close contact with an infected student who wasn’t wearing a mask, she said. Her son was asymptomatic and made a full good recovery. Neither she nor her husband tested positive for the coronavirus.
‘On my school’s website, on all their board documentation, they say that they want to provide a safe place to learn,’ she said. ‘And I think that to do that, especially with the Delta variant out there, they need to start [putting masks on] kids.’
Jensen’s three children attended class at Rose Glen Elementary School for the 2020-2021 school year without issue. The district had enforced masking and temperature checks and used plexiglass dividers within classrooms.
This year, almost all safety protocols in place were voted to be removed by the district’s school board.
Jensen’s children opted to wear masks, but many other children didn’t. Her eldest child then tested positive for Covid-19, and a few days later, another one of her children also tested positive, according to court documents.
The lack of safety protocols and poor communication regarding the spread of the virus within classrooms are unacceptable and a risk to the community, Jensen said in her declaration.
Jensen’s son who tested positive had attended community church and Cub Scouts functions before they knew he had the virus.
‘The School District of Waukesha’s refusal to implement reasonable Covid-19 mitigation strategies, not only affected our immediate family, but if we had been notified sooner of my oldest son’s close contact with someone who was diagnosed with Covid-19, we could have prevented possible further community spread of the virus,’ Jensen said.
Both Jensen and Kildahl’s lawsuits are seeking class action status and being funded by the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC, according to the group’s Facebook page.
Vaccines are only available to children 12 years and older. That is why the CDC recommends, for unvaccinated children especially, that school districts utilize multiple layers of protection including universal masking, social distancing, handwashing, testing, disinfection and quarantining and isolation.