Dane County Madison Public Health amendment allows in-person instruction for students with disabilities

Scott Girard:

Students with disabilities who need some in-person instruction will be allowed to go to schools this fall after Public Health Madison & Dane County amended its previous order Tuesday.

PHMDC had announced on Friday, Aug. 21, that no students beyond grades K-2 were allowed for in-person instruction until certain metrics were met.

After a challenging spring for students with disabilities, who have Individualized Education Programs that outline therapies and goals, some area districts had been planning for limited in-person opportunities prior to the order. That work, part of the IEP process that includes parents and school representatives, can now continue.

The Madison Metropolitan School District had nearly 4,000 students with disabilities of nearly 27,000 students total in the 2019-20 school year. Some therapies like speech and language were easier to adapt to a virtual environment than practices like physical therapy or the social interactions that are an important part of development for students.

The Aug. 21 order, Emergency Order No. 9, is facing multiple legal challenges from area private schools, supporting groups and parents. Many private schools were set to open last week, just after the order was published.

The state Supreme Court has asked PHMDC director Janel Heinrich and County Executive Joe Parisi to respond by Wednesday at noon.

The order allows public and private schools to open for grades K-2 in person with certain hygiene, mask and distancing requirements in place.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 


The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

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