CNA Staff, Aug 24, 2020 / 09:15 am
The Bishop of Madison expressed his frustration this weekend after Dane County, Wisconsin, ordered all schools in the county to start the academic year online. The county issued the order Friday, giving local Catholic schools less than three day’s notice before the beginning of the academic year.
“Last night, Dane County ordered the closure of all schools, giving us 60 hours notice. Our schools were poised to open safely and responsibly. COVID data does not support this decision,” tweeted Bishop Donald Hying on August 22.
In a subsequent letter, mailed to families at affected schools and published on the diocesan Facebook page, Hying explained that on the evening of Friday, August 21, Public Health Madison-Dane County released Emergency Order #9, mandating that grades 3-12 begin the year online. Only grades kindergarten through second are permitted to meet in person.
Hying said he was “extraordinarily disappointed at this order and its timing,” and that he was permitting schools in Dane County to delay their first day of school until after Labor Day if they wish to do so.
Other Catholic schools in the diocese are set to open the week of August 24.
Dane County is one of the 11 counties that comprise the Diocese of Madison. It is the second-largest county in the state of Wisconsin.
“As you know, Catholic schools were preparing to open in-person, with many starting this coming week. We know that you believe that being in school, in-person, is the most effective and nurturing environment for your children,” said Hying, adding that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Centers for Disease Control, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all agree with this conclusion.
The order to go online-only, said Hying, came despite the principals and superintendent of the Madison diocese’s schools working with state officials over three months to ensure a safe reopening of schools for the coming school year.