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Parents call for reversal of Dane County order on virtual schools

prayer rally

Families gather for prayer rally to oppose schools order

MADISON (WKOW) -- As a group of parents comes together for a prayer rally in Madison urging health officials to allow their kids to go to school in person, one school is getting ready to take Dane County to court.

St. Ambrose Academy in Madison has raised more than $90,000 in an online fundraiser, with attorneys ready to sue county health officials over a recent order that would require more classes to be virtual.

School leaders say their reopening plans are just as safe as childcare options that will be offered at public school districts this fall.

"There are parents that are asking for their parental rights and to be able to choose the safest, healthiest options for children. And if Dane County will not reconsider, then we're willing to fight," said Angela Hineline, a parent and employee at St. Ambrose.

The school hopes Dane County leaders will hear their message and reverse the order, so they don't have to file a lawsuit. Classes are supposed to start there in about two weeks.

A spokesperson with Public Health Madison & Dane County told 27 News Monday health officials will make decisions on the order based on case data.

Based on our current average number of cases per day, it is not safe for all grade levels to open for in-person instruction. We understand that this decision has wide-reaching community impact.

We are driven by the data and will reopen schools as the data indicates we may do so. We all play a role in helping schools reopen. By limiting trips out, avoiding gathering, wearing masks, keeping  distance between others, staying home when we’re sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and washing our hands often, we can stop the spread of the virus. When the virus can’t spread, our case count decreases, and schools, businesses, and workplaces will be able to reopen faster and stay open. Opening in a phased manner starts carefully to minimize risk of exposure to the greatest extent possible while supporting way to get back to school. Our community still has high COVID-19 activity. As we re-introduce in-person school, we must ensure we are still able to identify and contain the number of cases that are likely to result from more people being exposed in more settings. 

Meanwhile, some families are speaking out over the order. A group of parents and their kids met for a prayer rally Monday outside of the Diocese of Madison offices on the west side.

These parents say they want the choice to send their kids to class if they feel their school is safe.

"The fact that they [health officials] were having regular meetings and then suddenly at the 11th hour, some 60 hours before many schools were set to open this, was shoved down. It just seems wrong," said Jill Yanke, a Cottage Grove mother who organized the event.

The group had planned on taking their message to the City-County Building during the rally Monday, but moved the event because of other protests happening downtown.