Erpenbach Discusses COVID-19 Response at Hub Meeting

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By: 
Michelle Phillips

MIDDLETON–Sen. Jon Erpenbach joined the Middleton Good Neighbor Hub virtual meeting on Oct. 2, and answered questions concerning the state’s COVID-19 response.

He told local community leaders that he understands the frustration Wisconsinites feel regarding response to the pandemic, particularly at the local and county level as county have been left to deal with the pandemic themselves due to lack of state guidance, or lawsuits rejecting safety measures put in place by Gov. Tony Evers.

The most recent suit was filed the same day as the Hub meeting, and stives to end the most recent statewide mask mandate put in place by Evers in September. Erpenbach said Republican legislators were successful in overturning the governor’s first order.

“It’s chaotic,” Erpenbach said of the legal actions.

He said not have a statewide mandate makes it difficult for businesses as well and added the border of Sauk and Dane counties was a good example. In Dane County restaurants are at 25 percent capacity and across the (Wisconsin) river, it’s “open season.”

He reminded those on the Zoom meeting that the legislature has not met for more than 100 days, with no plans to reconvene until January 2021.

“It’s not a matter of the governor not doing his job based on science,” Erpenbach said. 

He went on to say that the lawsuits would be less disheartening if Robyn Vos and Scott Fitzgerald, (assembly and senate majority leaders) had an alternative solution. 

“It’s, no. Not no, here’s what we’re going to do. Working with the governor is non-existent,” he included. “and they’re not offering up any solutions.

“They will go to court–they have gone to court–they have unlimited access through taxpayer money,” he went on to say.

Erpenbach added, “Striking down the first order was damaging to the seat of governor–forget about Tony Evers–it’s damaging to the seat.”

Superintendent Dana Monogue said that she predicts virtual learning within the Middleton Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) for the foreseeable future. She also indicated that the school board has shown interest in discussing the second semester, which begins in January, and will likely be a blended model. 

“There’s a lot of stress on families,” Monogue acknowledged. “It’s a big burden–we know that.” She included that staff is working to make improvements to help both students and families. 

Monogue said the district would continue to follow Dane County guidelines regarding the pandemic when considering learning options. She said that means a virtual approach to clubs and activities. The revised winter sports schedule has practice fast approaching later in the month, but Monogue said, “If the guidelines have not changed, it will be challenging to do.” 

Currently masks are required inside for 10 or less people and outside for 25 or less. 

She said students with IEPs (individual education plan) have had their plans reviewed and some will qualify for in person learning. In addition, some students who are still struggling with connectivity have been allowed to come into the schools for in-person learning. 

Wellness is of great concern in the district since students and have lost the interpersonal connections that in-person learning offers.

Kalise Horst, MCPASD wellness coordinator, was on hand to talk about wellness resources offered within the district and give tips to help families during the pandemic. 

Horst told the group that the school’s family resource page has a section specifically geared toward family wellness, including COVID-19 wellness, including talking to kids about COVID and emotional and physical wellness. It also offers links to trails and outdoor activities to help encourage people to get outdoors and into nature.

Horst added that the district is producing a family wellness newsletter as well.

She offered up some tips to help deal with living in a pandemic:

Self care: Host said, “If we aren’t taking care of ourselves, we’re no good for someone else.”

Emotional reaction: She reminded that our emotions are reflected on other people, including non verbal reactions. 

Keep Routines: Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t. 

Checking in: Checking in with ourselves and each other is important. Horst reminds that rather than asking, “how are doing?” ask “how is your heart?” or “where’s your heart?” If that seems too personal, she said to ask what is going well or what is a challenge.

Family Time: Horst suggests embarking on a scavenger hunt, planning a family game night or a family workout.

To learn more about wellness measures and tips, visit the MCPASD wellness page at: https://in.mcpasd.k12.wi.us/wellness/famresources/.

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