Schools, families try to adapt as COVID-19 spreads in rural Wisconsin — 10/20/20

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. 

Today we highlight our story about the rapidly shifting landscape in rural Wisconsin as families and schools cope with the surging COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporter Peter Cameron found that while most of Wisconsin’s rural districts began the school year with in-person classes, many have been forced to convert to virtual or hybrid systems — at least temporarily — as the pandemic infiltrates small towns and rural areas. 

More than 15,000 children ages 17 or younger have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Wisconsin, while nearly 500 schools have been investigated for outbreaks, according to the state Department of Health Services. Nevertheless, research is showing that the vast majority of children do not suffer the worst effects of the coronavirus. And the extent to which they may spread the coronavirus is still unclear.

Top Stories 

Courtesy of Amy Lund

Brad Steinmetz, who previously was the La Farge High School’s social studies teacher and now is the town’s historian, takes teacher Amy Lund’s students on a walking tour of the town for a history lesson. Lund says she takes occasional outdoor “mask breaks” with her students. The kids are told to socially distance, but it gives everyone a fresh-air breather.

Wisconsin schools ‘whipsawing’ as COVID-19 hits rural districtsWisconsin Watch 

COVID-19 is ravaging Wisconsin, and Wisconsinites still aren’t staying homeWPR 

COVID-19 has infected more than 2,900 people in Wisconsin’s prisons. Should certain inmates be released to stop the spread?Appleton Post-Crescent 

Inmates’ loved ones say Racine County Jail hasn’t been forthcoming about COVID casesThe Journal Times

Some West De Pere students protest district’s return to in-person schoolingGreen Bay Press-Gazette 

Mayors of Big Ten cities ask for COVID-19 changesWPR 

COVID-19 testing site open in Highbridge Thursday; Ashland County out of flu vaccineAshland Daily Press

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″]


“My partner and I were even staying socially distant inside the house … This is a very lonely time as is, but it’s extra lonely when you are sick.”

— Mikey Murry, a Milwaukee author, as quoted by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Food access trouble?

We know that when classes are virtual, many Wisconsin students and families lose access to food schools provide. And as the school year starts, some meal sites are closing. Share your experience with News414, Wisconsin Watch’s service journalism collaboration with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Outlier Media. Click here for details.

You can also view a list of Milwaukee-area food distribution sites for students here.

Data to note

Eight Wisconsin communities still sit on The New York Times’ list of 20 U.S. metro areas with the most new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, adjusted for population. They are: 

  • Oshkosh-Neenah
  • Appleton
  • Sheboygan 
  • Wausau-Weston
  • Green Bay
  • Fond du Lac
  • Manitowoc 
  • Beaver Dam 

Multiple Wisconsin metro areas have sat on the list for weeks. 

“Wisconsin is an epicenter of COVID-19 in the U.S. and has been for over two weeks,” Dr. John Raymond, president of the Medical College of Wisconsin, said according to

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:

‘The bubble changed me’: Milwaukee Bucks’ DJ Shawna shares how experience during pandemic inspired herWTMJ-TV 

Comments are closed.