COVID cases rising by the dozens for La Crosse County K-12 students

A total of 82 students have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two and a half weeks, nearly 700 more in quarantine

LA CROSSE COUNTY (WKBT) – COVID-19 cases in La Crosse County schools are rising by the dozens, sparking concern from health leaders.

A total of 82 K through 12 students in La Crosse County have tested positive for COVID-19 over the last two and a half weeks.

On top of that, 695 more are in quarantine due to being close contacts.

“And that just is a little concerning to us,” La Crosse County Health Department environmental health & lab manager Carol Drury said.

Drury says a lot of the cases are stemming from virus variants.

Many of them are linked to extra-curricular activities.

“We know that fatigue connected to following guidance is starting to wear on people,” Drury said. “It gets hard.”

School District of La Crosse superintendent Aaron Engel says new cases have actually dropped in the last week.

“We feel that the mitigation strategies in schools are keeping kids safe,” Engel said.

Students in La Crosse schools have been learning in-person since the beginning of April.

Engel doesn’t expect that to change with about a month left in the school year.

“We think it is unlikely that we would have to switch back to a hybrid or fully virtual learning mode,” Engel said.

But he doesn’t rule out a flip back to virtual learning again if cases continue to surge.

“We know that most of our students learn best in-person,” Engel said.

With graduation right around the corner, Engel urges students to keep their guards up.

“If students are quarantined and can’t participate in graduation, we know that that will be incredibly disappointing to lots of folks,” Engel said.

Drury says vaccinations only help, even though not every kid will get one.

“We just know the power of what getting people vaccinated can do,” Drury said.

To ensure kids stay in the classroom year round.

West Salem School District just announced its allowing mask wearing to be optional for outdoor activities.

District leaders say the district has not seen a big rise in cases compared to other schools in the county.