La Crosse County Health officials already seeing COVID-19 impact in schools

Health officials begin navigating COVID-19's effect on fall semester as some students return to classes
Health Dept One On One

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Students are back in school online or in-person in the area. County health director Jen Rombalski said there is already a COVID-19 impact in some local schools.

The fall semester is beginning as every community approaches back to school in their own unique way. The risk for COVID-19 spread remains for in-person classes. The La Crosse County Health Department is working with schools to provide guidance when a problem surfaces.

District administrators would then have to decide how to get that information to people in the community.

“That information will go back to the school district to share information as they see fit, both with their families and their staff as well as other members of the public that they serve within that school district,” Rombalski said.

The health department will be assigning staff members to communicate with schools.

“We’d like to have a liaison at the school as well; particularly for situations where there is a case, or there are potential contacts and we can’t identify them all,” Rombalski said.

COVID-19 is already affecting some schools in the area. This new information falls in line with her prediction last week. 

“We do already know of cases and contacts that are impacting a couple of schools in our area,” Rombalski said. “We expect that to continue.”

Rombalski did not specify which schools, but she did say the impact doesn’t just start in schools. It can start in a student’s home. High school sports also remain in question as some districts are moving forward while others are postponing events.

She says COVID-19 is more complicated than people think when it comes to sports.

“People forget that any aerobic activity can aerosolize what is normally a droplet that can have virus in it, which means it can go farther,” Rombalski said.

A lot of the risk comes down who is sitting in the bleachers.

“If you have parents and grandparents and those folks have underlying health conditions, the risk level is different than it might be if it’s just high school athletes, for example, who are all really healthy,” she said.

There is still a lot for health officials to learn as students head back to school. Rombalski said school districts and health officials have to manage people’s health records.
HIPAA laws require people’s health records to stay private.