Wisconsin Parents Sue Schools After Their Children Contract COVID

Several school districts in the state have removed COVID-19 mitigation policies for the 2021-22 school year

Elementary schoolchildren wearing a protective face masks in the classroom. Education during epidemic.
Photo: Getty

Two Wisconsin parents are suing their children's school districts after their kids contracted the coronavirus.

Shannon Jensen and Gina Kildahl are both suing the School District of Waukesha and the School District of Fall Creek, respectively, after their sons tested positive for COVID after attending Rose Glen Elementary School and Fall Creek Elementary.

According to court documents, Jensen sued the Waukesha School District, the Waukesha Board of Education, a number of school board members and district employees on Oct. 6 for "knowingly, needlessly, unreasonably, and recklessly exposing the public to Covid-19 … endangering public health." They claim classes are being held with inadequate safety protocols, the Washington Post reports.

She said her child, who was wearing a mask to school, contracted COVID from another student who did not have any face coverings, according to the Guardian. Jensen further claims that the school district didn't provide any educational plans for students in quarantine.

On Monday, Kildahl filed a separate lawsuit claiming that the Fall Creek School District, the board, superintendent and individual board members "recklessly refused" to implement COVID mitigation policies, per CNN.

"I am just hoping that they will start masking and take some responsibility to keep our kids safe at school," Kildahl told the outlet on Tuesday. "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."

"Universal masking is what our county health department suggests, just so that all the kids are on the same playing level," she added.

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Over 80 Students Potentially Exposed to COVID After a Parent Sent an Infected Child to School
Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty

According to the Waukesha School District website, the school board "removed most of the COVID-19 mitigation measures" in May ahead of the 2021-22 school year. Kildah's suit states that the Fall Creek School District did the same, Washington Post reports.

Kirk Bangstad, owner of Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC, said Sunday on social media that the company is funding both lawsuits and plans to sue "every school board in Wisconsin that doesn't follow CDC guidelines to protect the spread of COVID in schools."

"Wisconsin communities have exploded with the Delta variant because many school districts have dropped all forms of COVID mitigation that were in place last year," the Facebook post said, noting it's already raised over $50,000 in donations to support the lawsuits.

James Sebert, Waukesha District superintendent, confirmed to PEOPLE that the school district was served with the lawsuit Friday afternoon, declining to comment further after obtaining legal representation.

Representatives for the Fall Creek School District did not immediately respond to PEOPLE'S request for comment.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors of K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, as the Delta variant continues to spread.

However, mask mandates at schools and other public spaces vary from state to state. States like Florida, Texas, and Arizona have prohibited these kinds of mandates for the 2021-22 school year, but many districts have defied them despite threats of slashed funding.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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