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‘The rug was pulled from under us’: Catholics fight Wisconsin county ban on in-person school

Credit: GUNDAM_Ai / Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, Aug 27, 2020 / 06:01 pm MT (CNA).- Twice a week for three months, the administration of St. Ambrose Academy in Wisconsin met with Dane County public health officials to ensure that they would be ready to reopen at the start of the school year – which was supposed to happen this week.

They drafted a 35-page plan to mitigate the risks of the coronavirus, including regulations on the flow of students, social distancing, personal protective equipment, and regular cleaning and sanitization. They leased a second building, so that their 115 students could social distance even more. The plan was released to parents, who could choose to send their students to school in person or online.

But on the evening of Aug. 21, days before the school year was set to start for St. Ambrose Academy and other private schools in the county, 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.

“Within hours after the order was announced, I had emails in my inbox from our parents,” Angela Hineline told CNA. Hineline is a long-time St. Ambrose parent, as well as the learning services specialist and enrollment manager for the school. 

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