Matthias, Sterling and Adara Millar play in the snow outside their home in Blue Mounds, Wis., on Dec. 20, 2020. The Millar children have been attending school in the Barneveld School District virtually for much of the year. Their dad, Matt Millar, says supervising their virtual schooling felt “impossible at times.” Credit: Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch
Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

Wisconsin Watch is a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on government integrity and quality of life issues, and we always provide our news for free.

You can read all of our coronavirus/COVID-19 coverage by signing up for our Wisconsin COVID-19 Update newsletter, and please consider becoming a member to support our nonprofit journalism. 

Today we highlight our story exploring what we know — and what is yet to be learned — about how well Wisconsin school children are faring during a pandemic that has forced some schools to teach fully or partially online. 

Reporter Peter Cameron found that limited studies have found children in grades K-12 nationwide have fallen behind in math. And a survey of Wisconsin students and their parents — most of them in rural areas — finds that just 15% believe they are learning as much during the pandemic as before. On the positive side, fears that schools would become superspreader sites have not materialized.

This piece is part of a collaborative reporting project called Lesson Plans: Rural schools grapple with COVID.

Top Stories

Matthias, Sterling and Adara Millar play in the snow outside their home in Blue Mounds, Wis., on Dec. 20, 2020. The Millar children have been attending school in the Barneveld School District virtually for much of the year. Their dad, Matt Millar, says supervising their virtual schooling felt “impossible at times.” Credit: Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

As semester ends in Wisconsin, COVID-19 fears shrink — while concerns of academic slide grow — Wisconsin Watch 

8 things you need to know about coronavirus vaccinations — Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service 

‘Is it fair’? Wisconsin faces decisions on who will be next in line for COVID-19 vaccinations — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Another beloved Carroll University nursing professor has died of COVID-19 — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

States struggle for control of chaotic vaccine rollout — POLITICO 

Priority categories for coronavirus vaccine not cut and dried — WPR 

Rock County businesses concerned about COVID-19 data gathering — Janesville Gazette

What are we missing? And how are you coping? Help us provide critical information and accountability by filling out this form or emailing us at tips@wisconsinwatch.org.

Quotable

“COVID-19 has affected every citizen of our state — from the loved ones who have become ill to the hospital staff working long hours with overflowing beds, the parents who have become teachers and businesses who are struggling.”

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, testifying on his party’s COVID-19 relief package

“Since the start of the pandemic, employers and lawmakers alike called essential workers heroes, but we have yet to see action taken to back up those words.”

Julie Zugenbuehler, a former longtime nurse in Madison, testifying on the GOP’s COVID-19 package, as reported by WPR

Data to note

Wisconsin has now surpassed 5,000 deaths during the pandemic. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 60 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total past 5,000 to to 5,039.

WisContext offers these visualizations of Wisconsin COVID-19 statistics. New documented COVID-19 infections are increasing in recent days following a weeks-long plunge from their pre-Thanksgiving peak. The state’s test-positivity rate is similarly increasing. The state is seeing fewer COVID-19 patients hospitalized since mid-November, now hovering at mid-October levels. But the Wisconsin Hospital Association reported a major spike in patients on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Public health officials continue to urge Wisconsinites to wear masks and practice physical distancing until vaccinations are more widely distributed.

Calculate your exposure risk

In Wisconsin, even small gatherings can carry a big risk of exposure to the coronavirus, according to a nationwide tool that estimates the danger by the size of gathering and county in which it is held. Data scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Stanford University developed the tool, which you can find here.

Resilient Wisconsin

People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us: tips@wisconsinwatch.org

How a woman’s co-working community is rebounding amidst the pandemic — TMJ4 News

Access to some stories listed in the Wisconsin COVID-19 Update may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing.

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The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.