Mothers sue after children catch Covid at Wisconsin schools with no mandates

Lawsuits say school districts created a ‘snake pit’ by ignoring coronavirus safety measures recommended by health officials

Two Wisconsin mothers whose children had Covid-19 in September have sued their school districts, for “needlessly and recklessly endangering the health and safety” of their children and other students.

Both lawsuits accuse the school districts of creating a “snake pit” for students by not implementing Covid-19 safety measures recommended by health officials, such as indoor masking, at their schools this year.

The suits say the Falls Creek school district and school board and Waukesha school district and school board “are aware that by removing their Covid-19 mitigation measures they are needlessly and recklessly endangering the health and safety of their students”.

Gina Kildahl filed on Monday in Wisconsin’s western district court after her child, a Falls Creek district elementary school student, tested positive for Covid-19 in late September.

The complaint said the school board voted against a mask requirement for the 2021-22 school year and that people are allowed to visit the district without masks or being screened or tested for Covid-19.

While Kildahl’s child wore a mask to school each day, according to the complaint, many other students did not. In late September, there was an outbreak in her child’s class and the child tested positive.

The complaint alleges that the district and school board’s refusal to implement Covid-19 mitigation measures was the cause of the child’s infection and illness.

The other lawsuit was filed by Shannon Jensen in Wisconsin’s eastern district court last week. It describes a similar situation in Waukesha.

Jensen said her child wore a mask in class while many students did not wear masks, including one who had Covid-19 symptoms two days in a row in September. Jensen said the school told her quarantine was optional for her child, even though their classmate had tested positive.

Jensen’s child contracted Covid-19 and she quarantined her two other children. She said the school district did hot have educational plans for children in quarantine.

The school districts did not immediately comment. Speaking to the Washington Post, Frederick Melms, an attorney for Jensen and Kildahl, said: “We’re hoping to get a judge that [will] make them do the right thing. It’s unfortunate that it came to this.”

The lawsuits are backed by the Minocqua Brewing Company super political action committee (Super Pac), an organization founded by a brewery owner frustrated by Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic and elected officials who refuse to recognize the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The brewery owner, Kirk Bangstad, said the Super Pac aims to sue every Wisconsin school board that does not follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid in schools.

Bangstad said in a blogpost on Sunday: “Hell, I’d rather be selling beer or surfing in Costa Rica, but these are extraordinary times in Wisconsin and America and unless we organize now, we might not have enough power come election time to stave off the lunacy.”

Contributor

Amanda Holpuch

The GuardianTramp

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