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Janesville closes 2 schools to in-person learning after COVID-19 numbers rise

Janesville closes 2 schools to in-person learning after COVID-19 numbers rise

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This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.

The Janesville School District announced Monday that it has temporarily closed two of its 19 school buildings to in-person learning after the emergence of “several known positive cases” of the coronavirus.

Craig High School and Roosevelt Elementary School closed at the end of the school day and will remain off-limits to students through at least Sept. 25. A district spokesman declined to say how many students at each school had tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, but said as of Monday morning six district students at the high school level and three students at the elementary level were positive.

“We’re about a week out from the Labor Day weekend and this could be reflective of when a number of people may not have been as careful about social distancing” over the holiday, Patrick Gasper said.

The district said information on online instruction for Craig and Roosevelt students will be sent out Tuesday, and instruction will resume online on Wednesday. All district students have district-issued devices.

While the schools are closed, school breakfasts and lunches will be available free for curbside pick-up at both schools beginning Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m Monday through Friday.

The district said it will work with the Rock County Public Health Department to determine when the schools should reopen.

The district in July decided to let parents choose whether they wanted their children to return to school online or in-person, with students in the middle and high schools given a hybrid option with elements of both.

Gasper said 30% of students were attending fully online, with the rest either going in person or on a hybrid schedule. He did not have figures for how many were online and how many were in person at Craig and Roosevelt.

As of Sept. 8, Rock County had seen 280 new cases of the coronavirus in the preceding two weeks, according to the health department. Its most recent rate of positive tests was 10.4% on Sept. 8, which was up from 4.7% two weeks before. Janesville’s first day of school was Sept. 1.

Madison and other Dane County school districts began their school year fully online for all but a handful of students, but that’s not been the default choice across the rest of the state.

As of Friday, 310 of the state’s 421 school districts had responded to a voluntary survey from the Department of Public Instruction about plans for beginning the school year, and about 280 indicated some degree of face-to-face instruction for the start of the 2020-21 academic year — either with a full five days a week or a hybrid approach combining online and in-person instruction.

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