Parents Knowingly Sent Their COVID-19 Infected Children to School, Wisconsin Officials Say

"We're not going to be able to keep our schools open," County Board member Don Kriefall said

A view of high school students sitting at desks in a classroom with protective masks
High school students wearing PPE in class. Photo: Getty

Some parents in Wisconsin’s suburban Washington and Ozaukee counties have sent their children to school knowing they had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, state health officials said.

“Something that happened and continued to happen … which I never in my wildest dreams imagined it would happen, is people sent their known positive kids to school,” Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department Officer Kirsten Johnson told WISN.

Johnson said there have been at least three instances where students tested positive and came to class anyways, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In one case, a student was so ill that they went to the nurse’s office. The nurse discovered that the student was on a list of those who had recently tested positive and should not have been in school.

kids at school with masks

“The biggest challenge for us that we’re experiencing right now is people are just being dishonest,” Johnson told the outlet. “They don’t want their children to be quarantined from school. They don’t want to have to miss work. In doing that, they’re jeopardizing the ability to have school in person and other people’s health.

“Look, your behavior, your dishonesty, is going to result in your children's schools being shut down,” she continued. “You need to be honest. You need to protect the rest of your community. The end.”

As of Sept. 22, the Washington-Ozaukee Public Health Department was actively investigating 25 schools in the two counties. Both counties are planning to hire more contact tracers and will consider shutting down schools completely if the problem gets worse.

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“When you have parents lying to contact tracers, refusing to get kids tested, that’s just beyond the pale,” Washington County Board member Don Kriefall said, according to the Journal Sentinel. “That becomes very problematic for the health department to manage this whole situation. The hammer may have to be dropped.”

“We’re not going to be able to keep our schools open,” Kriefall added to WISN. “It’s going to, I mean, just a few parents that are irresponsible are going to affect the entire school district.”

A similar situation recently occurred in Massachusetts, in which a high school student in Attleboro attended in-person classes despite knowing they had tested positive for the novel coronavirus only days prior.

"It was a reckless action to send a child — a teenager — to school who was COVID-positive," Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux told WHDH. "It was really poor judgment."

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