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COVID-19 ROUNDUP

More closures and changes: Another school goes virtual, testing expanded, fundraiser pushed online

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RACINE — First Janes and now Jerstad-Agerholm.

Two Racine Unified schools have switched to remote-only learning due to staff shortages linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After one day of in-person school in 2022 on Wednesday, Janes Elementary, 1425 N. Wisconsin St., went virtual.

Now, starting Friday and continuing through at least Wednesday, Jerstad-Agerholm K-8, 3601 Lasalle St., also will be virtual. Racine Unified announced the change after school Thursday.

Students are advised to log onto Google Classroom at their respective school’s typical start time, through which teachers are to provide remote instruction.

Lunches can also be picked up at the district’s Administrative Service Campus, 3109 Mount Pleasant St., from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Milwaukee and Madison public schools have been virtual throughout 2022, although Madison students are due to resume classes Jan. 10 on their revised schedule. Milwaukee Public Schools are to remain virtual through at least Jan. 18. Those urban districts went virtual to allow more time between holiday family gatherings and bringing students back into crowded schools.

Both Racine Unified and Kenosha Unified School District considered postponing their returns, but the districts’ respective boards voted to return in-person, despite the protestations of their respective union leaders.

RUSD was originally scheduled to return Monday, but returned Wednesday instead due to COVID concerns.

COVID-19 case rates have never been higher in Wisconsin — a statewide daily record for new confirmed cases was set four times this week — and hospitals are reporting being fuller than ever. Deaths are on the rise too.

More testing

Testing for COVID-19 at Festival Hall by the Wisconsin National Guard will continue through the end of the month, despite initially being set to end about a week into the new year.

Testing at Festival Hall, 5 Fifth St., has been extended to Jan. 27. Hours will continue to be on Mondays and Thursdays from noon until 6 p.m.

Specific testing dates are:

  • Monday, Jan. 10: Noon-6 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 13: Noon-6 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 20: Noon-6 p.m.
  • Monday, Jan. 24: Noon-6 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 27: Noon-6 p.m.

There will be no testing on Monday, Jan. 17 due to the federal holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The City of Racine is recommending registration at register.covidconnect.wi.gov to save time at the test site. Testing is free of charge and open to anyone 12 months or older (parent/guardian must accompany minors). You do not have to be symptomatic to get tested, the city said.

Dottie-Kay Bowersox

Bowersox

City of Racine Public Health Administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox released the following statement along with the announcement of the extended testing hours: “As anticipated with the end of the holiday season, COVID-19 cases are at the highest case rate that has been seen throughout the entirety of the pandemic at over 1,600 confirmed cases per 100,000 people. Because of the prevalence of the virus, individuals are encouraged to take advantage of COVID-19 testing at Festival Hall when they are symptomatic and identified as a close contact of a confirmed positive.”

The decision to extend hours comes after announcements of several organizations closing or shifting their operations due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases. Earlier, the Racine Police Department announced the closure of its lobby.

Bowersox said that Public Health Department personnel may be unable to contact everyone who has been confirmed COVID-19 positive due to the “overwhelming number” of cases.

Library

The Racine Public Library is joining the list of organizations in the area shifting operations linked to the ongoing, and heightening, pandemic.

According to a release Wednesday, the library’s programs are going virtual — but the actual building at 75 7th St. will remain open for browsing, computer access, study room use and all other resources.

The decision was made “to protect staff and program attendees,” the library said.

The library’s Winterfest event, scheduled for Feb. 26, will also go fully virtual. “While the library does not anticipate changing the format of events after February, further updates will be issued depending on the course of the pandemic,” the release said.

The walk-in hours for social services will be temporarily closed as well; phone and video appointments with the library’s social worker, Ashley Cedeño, remain available.

Call 262-321-9458 or email socialworker@racinelibrary.info to set up an appointment for social services. In-person appointments can be accommodated on a case-by-case basis for patrons who need them, the release advised.

Books are still available for pickup at the library during the virtual programming, but staff are encouraging visitors to use curbside pickup options, which are available at the main building and at all Bookmobile stops.

For patrons who prefer to browse materials without stopping into the building, the library offers several digital collections: Audiobooks, e-books and digital magazines are available through Wisconsin’s Digital Library at wplc.OverDrive.com or through the Libby app. Comics are available through the LibraryPass app or at login.ComicsPlus.app.

Laptops and hotspots are still available at the library for checkout for those who don’t have reliable computer or internet access at home. Laptops can be checked out for three weeks at a time, and hotspots are available for up to a week, the release said.

For education-focused materials, check out BrainFuse for free, online tutoring at LakeShores.lib.wi.us/BrainFuse/login.pl

  • .
  • Creativebug offers arts and crafts workshops at
CreativeBug.com/lib/LakeShoresLib
  • .
  • Career training is available at
LinkedIn.com/learning-login/go/share
  • .
  • You can also find test practice and skill-building materials at
BadgerLink.dpi.wi.gov/resource/LearningExpress-library
  • .

Burlington Chamber fundraiser now virtual

The Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce has canceled its annual banquet and awards event because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, which was scheduled for Jan. 20 at Veterans Terrace, usually attracts more than 300 people at $50 each, and is one of the chamber’s biggest fundraisers.

However, an auction that takes place during the banquet is going ahead online, with bidding starting at 8 a.m. Jan. 11 at the website charityauction.bid/BACCauction.

Bidding closes at 10 p.m. Jan. 20.

Chamber officials are still accepting donated items for the auction, and other donations can be made, too, to help the chamber recover from the canceled event.

Jan Ludtke, executive director of the chamber, said in a Facebook post that the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic will not allow officials to bring people together at Veterans Terrace.

“We are committed to do our part to help protect our guests — our fellow businessmen and women — at our events,” Ludtke wrote. “We extend our sincere thanks to everyone for their ongoing support and dedication during this challenging time.”

Contact the chamber with any questions at 262-763-6044 or email info@burlingtonchamber.org.

Adam Rogan, Diana Panuncial and Scott Williams of The Journal Times contributed to this article.

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