Wearing a mask and practicing social distancing is effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19. But taking those precautions aren’t always possible inside the classroom.
Louise Wilson is with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. As a guest on WTMJ 2021, she said that not being able to spread out inside schools is a major hurdle in the fight against the pandemic.
“I think one of the biggest challenges they’re facing is trying to do the mitigations measures that we all know are effective in helping control the spread of COVID-19, but to do that in a school setting,” Wilson said.
She adds that when contact tracers are able to get in touch with a student who has tested positive, they’re finding more and more people who are attending large gatherings and ignoring public health guidelines.
She says that creates more of a strain on the system.
“We know that a lot of our local public health departments don’t have the capacity to do the contact tracing,” Wilson said.
“What used to be one case and then they had to maybe contact and trace three or four contacts, now those contacts can be 10, 12, even in the hundreds because people are not limiting the size of their social groups and so that has really stressed the local public health departments.”
In addition to helping keep students and other staff members safe from COVID-19, Wilson says nurses are having to become public health officials and keep people informed on coronavirus in their communities.
“School nurses are really community and public health nurses. A lot of what they do is health education.”
Wilson also says that teachers, nurses and other staff members at schools across the country are increasingly focusing on the mental wellbeing of students.
“I think that there’s great recognition that not only the stresses of COVID-19, the limitations that that has put on us, the changes in the educational system all have great effects on students’ mental health and we need to address those along with the educations needs that they have,” Wilson said.
Louise Wilson was a guest on WTMJ 2021.