On Tuesday, September 1, 2020, Waukesha County announced its four-pronged approach to “Stay Safe to Stay Open” as schools open and autumn nears. The County has focused on enhancing capabilities to control the COVID-19 pandemic in the following strategic areas: contact tracing, testing, data collection and visualization and educational partnerships.
“Waukesha County has bolstered its existing public health infrastructure to levels never seen before,” said Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow. “These enhancements are made in partnership with schools, businesses, and residents, and will allow us to continue our safe, measured approach to reopening while protecting the population.”
Over 200 contact tracers, disease investigators and administrative staff have been hired, trained, and onboarded in order to track and stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the community. 114 of these new staff are a result of the new curriculum designed in partnership with Carroll University to create a structured training program for new contact tracers. Thirteen individuals are local school nurses who worked with the county over the summer and take those skills back to their educational facilities.
In addition to new Waukesha County Public Health Staff, local school staff members have been trained to assist with initial contact tracing investigations that may be related to educational facilities.
Area School Partnerships
Waukesha County is working in partnership with all public schools and dozens of private schools to engage staff in initial contact tracing efforts to ensure faster response to cases. Schools will have direct access to COVID investigators for guidance regarding specific situations related to the virus. The County has also worked with school boards and superintendents to develop guidelines that allow schools to follow a framework that optimizes a safe start to the academic year while providing flexibility for each district or school to operate under a plan that meets the distinct needs of their student population and campus footprint. These guidelines are available at: www.waukeshacounty.gov/safeschools.
Waukesha County continuously works to increase access to community testing resources. In the month of September, the Wisconsin National Guard will hold 8 community test sites at the Waukesha County Expo Center, which will be able to conduct 600 tests per day. The National Guard community test events are in addition to ten public testing locations in operation in Waukesha by appointment. Testing information is available at: www.waukeshacounty.gov/testingsites
Data Collection and Visualization
A new COVID-19 dashboard was launched to help educational, business and community leaders evaluate the pandemic’s impact in the community as schools reopen. A new map shows Active Child Cases in School District Boundaries, as well as hospital capacity data, COVID-19 trends over a 14-day period, improved cases summary information, and community impact data. The process to collect and input case data has also been streamlined to ensure that residents have access to accurate and timely information.
Stay Safe to Stay Open
As Waukesha County works to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the community, residents are reminded to follow the principles of Waukesha County’s “Stay Safe to Stay Open” campaign, which promotes five concepts to protect the health and economy:
“Stay Safe to Stay Open” was originally created in partnership with Waukesha County businesses. The concepts have been expanded to guide schools as they reopen. “Stay Safe to Stay Open” educational guidelines, FAQS, and resources for schools and parents are online at www.waukeshacounty.gov/safeopen.
More information about Waukesha County’s response to COVID-19 is available at www.waukeshacounty.gov/covid19.