A Wisconsin parent is suing her childrens’ school district after three of her sons tested positive for COVID-19, alleging that the district’s lackadaisical mitigation approach led to her sons’ contraction of the virus.
Earlier this month, Shannon Jensen filed a federal lawsuit against Waukesha School District, seeking an injunction against the district that would require students and staff to comply with guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within schools across the country.
Those guidelines include requiring that masks are worn by everyone inside school buildings, including students and staff. It is also recommended that individuals maintain a distance of at least three feet from one another, and that regular screening for the virus is conducted — along with contact tracing when an infection is discovered.
In her lawsuit, Jensen contends that the Waukesha School District isn’t implementing any of those recommendations. The district ended its mask mandate back in May, and it took several days for Jensen to learn that students in her oldest son’s classroom had tested positive for the virus.
Four students in one classroom — including one that sat next to Jenson’s son — tested positive for the virus in mid-September. Jensen removed all three of her sons from school upon learning the news, and shortly after, they all tested positive for coronavirus.
All three of her sons wore masks while attending school, though many of their classmates did not.
The Waukesha School District doesn’t have any thresholds in place for when classroom-wide quarantining should take place, and they don’t appear to have a system for contact tracing of any kind. The district’s policy for responding to outbreaks has been “blanket informing parents when a child in the school had tested positive, usually several days earlier,” the lawsuit contends.
The district is not responding to requests for interviews or comments from local media sources at this time, citing advice from counsel.
Though children are less likely to suffer from the more severe symptoms of COVID-19 than older populations, they aren’t completely safe from the virus. Around 700 children in the U.S. have died of coronavirus since the pandemic began in early March of 2020.
“Think about it in terms of football stadiums,” Daniel Rauch, chief of pediatric hospital medicine at Tufts Children’s Hospital in Boston, said to USA Today. “In 100,000 kids, one of them is not going to make it with COVID.”
Though children under the age of 12 aren’t yet eligible for vaccination against the virus, many school districts throughout the country are putting students at risk by refusing to issue masking requirements — a move that could make lawsuits like Jensen’s more commonplace in the future.
Numerous studies have revealed that masks provide safer learning environments for children; a recent study found that schools without mask mandates were 3.5 times more likely to have a coronavirus outbreak than schools that required masks for students and staff.