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Parents Filed Lawsuits Against School Districts After Kids Caught Covid

In two separate lawsuits, Wisconsin parents allege their kids’ schools failed to take adequate measures to protect them from contracting Covid-19.

by Morgan Brinlee

Do school districts bear any responsibility when a child contracts Covid-19 from a classmate? Or is contracting the virus simply another risk of going to school, similar to how a child might catch a cold or flu? Parents in Wisconsin believe school districts do bear at least some responsibility — and they’re suing. Two separate parents have sued their children’s school districts after their kids contracted Covid-19 from classmates who were not required to wear face masks while at school. Both parents have alleged the school districts failed to adequately protect their children from the highly transmissible virus.

Shannon Jensen filed a lawsuit against the Waukesha School District, its school board, and a number of district employees on Oct. 5, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. In it, she noted the Waukesha school board removed some Covid-19 mitigation measures, including a policy that required students to wear face masks in May. On Sept. 16 and 17, Jensen alleged her son was seated next to an unmasked sick child at Rose Glen Elementary School and, despite wearing a mask, tested positive for the virus on Sept. 19. In her lawsuit, Jensen said her son then passed the virus on to his two siblings, who subsequently missed school and other activities.

According to the paper, Jensen claimed the Waukesha School District had no thresholds established for determining when a class would be quarantined and conducted no contact tracing. Rather, Jensen claimed the district simply informed parents when a child at the school had tested positive for Covid-19, but that such notifications were usually sent out days later. Jensen is seeking an injunction that would order the school district to comply with Covid-19 guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC recommends K-12 implement universal masking, meaning masks must be worn by all students age 2 and older, as well as staff, teachers, and visitors regardless of vaccination status.

But Jensen isn’t the only Wisconsin parent to take legal action against their child’s school over a Covid-19 positive test. On Monday, CNN reported Gina Kildahl filed a lawsuit against the Fall Creek School District (FCSD), its school board, and superintendent, alleging the district had “recklessly” refused to implement Covid-19 mitigation measures as recommended by the CDC.

According to CNN, Kildahl claimed two students in her child’s class tested positive for Covid-19 on Sept. 20 and 24. At least one of these sick students did not wear a mask to school, which Kildahl has claimed resulted in her child testing positive for the virus on Sept. 27.

“By bringing students back to class around unmasked staff, reinstituting extracurricular activities, and allowing potentially contagious visitors and volunteers into the schools without masks, FCSD and the BOARD threw students into a Covid-19 'snake pit' creating an affirmative duty to keep their students safe from Covid-19," the cable news outlet reported Kildahl's complaint read.

Both lawsuits are seeking class-action status and have been funded by The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC. “The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC has just embarked on the boldest project we’ve ever taken on — suing every school board in Wisconsin that doesn’t follow CDC guidelines to protect the spread of Covid in schools,” Kirk Bangstad, the PAC’s founder, said in a recent Facebook post. “Wisconsin communities have exploded with the Delta variant because many school districts have dropped all forms of Covid mitigation that were in place last year due to the shrieking hordes of Tucker Carlson-watching zombies separated from their cerebrums and driven only by their lizard brains.”