As pandemic continues, small rural schools plan in-person classes without mask requirements — 7/29/20

A roundup of top news and information about Wisconsin’s response to the coronavirus

Wisconsin Watch is a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on government integrity and quality of life issues, and we always provide our news for free.

You can read all of our coronavirus/COVID-19 coverage by signing up for our Wisconsin COVID-19 Update newsletter, and please consider becoming a member to support our nonprofit journalism. 

A survey of 70 rural Wisconsin school districts found that most plan to offer in-person classes during the fall  — with no mask-wearing requirements or plans to perform temperature screenings, Rob Mentzer reports for WPR. 

“But the 2020-’21 school year will still look a lot different from previous years in most places, and many rural districts are planning to implement hybrid models that combine in-person and virtual schooling as a way of limiting the potential spread of COVID-19,” Mentzer reports. 

The survey covered some of the states’ smallest districts, including just three with more than 1,500 students, Mentzer adds.

We also highlight the latest dispatch in our Outbreak Wisconsin collaboration with WPR. News414 reporter Jimmy Gutierrez checks in with Milwaukee entrepreneur Adija Greer-Smith as she and her son discuss distance learning, work ethic and racial justice during an extraordinary year.

Top Stories

Amber Arnold / Wisconsin State Journal

A cyclist passes the Memorial Union, at right, on UW-Madison’s campus Wednesday, the same day officials announced their plan to reopen to students this fall.

Survey: Most rural schools plan in-person classes without masks or temperature checksWPR 

‘The people just want to be heard’: A Milwaukee mother and son discuss racial justice and education during the pandemic.Wisconsin Watch/WPR 

Momentum building among Wisconsin Democrats calling for statewide mask orderWisconsin State Journal 

Food distribution event highlights immense need in communityKenosha News 

JBS donates $1M to Green Bay community for COVID-19 response after outbreak at east-side plantGreen Bay Press Gazette 

‘A bad plan made poorly’: UW staff, students criticize ‘vague’ reopening planThe Cap Times 

COVID-19 pandemic leads to increased interest in homeschoolingWTMJ-TV

What are we missing? And how are you coping? Help us provide critical information and accountability by filling out this form or emailing us at

[ad number=”1″]

Government updates

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Gov. Tony Evers’ office

U.S. Centers and Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization 

Housing trouble?

Are you worried about losing your home or apartment because of the pandemic? Share your experience with News414, Wisconsin Watch’s service journalism collaboration with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Outlier media. Click here for details.


“It’s disturbing and unsettling…It’s a reminder of just how precarious the situation is that we’re in.”

Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, discussing a COVID-19 outbreak among the Miami Marlins, as quoted by the Wisconsin State Journal

“If the federal government, right from the get go, said, ‘We’re going to take care of equipment’ or ‘we’re going to take care of testing,’ they could’ve … and it would’ve put us in a much better place than we are today.”

Gov. Tony Evers, speaking to a virtual roundtable of Wisconsin health providers

Data to note

Here are the latest visualizations of COVID-19 cases and deaths from our partners at WisContext.

The Department of Health Services on Wednesday reported that 61 counties have a “high level” of coronavirus activity, a decrease from the 58 counties reported last week.

Click here for more details on how the agency is measuring COVID-19 activity levels. The agency plans to update its data by 2 p.m. each Wednesday.

Resilient Wisconsin

People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us:

Every level of Beloit Health System comes together to fight COVID-19Beloit Daily News 

Milwaukee Youth Council puts focus on mental health servicesMilwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Access to some stories listed in the Wisconsin COVID-19 Update may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing.

Comments are closed.