Dane County, Wisconsin was just hit with a complaint from a private school aimed at pushing back against an order requiring virtual-only learning this fall.
It’s no secret that school is going to look a bit different for many students this fall. Across the country, school districts are opting for a continuation of virtual learning over in-person learning. Some cities and towns have even mandated that schools must only offer virtual school to start the year, doing away with the ability for individual schools and districts to choose a plan that may work better for their students and staff. One school in Madison, Wisconsin is pushing back against a Dane County health order requiring educational institutions to begin the school year with virtual learning.
The school in question is St. Ambrose Academy. So far, the private school has raised more than $70,000 to file a lawsuit against the county, thanks to an online crowdfunding initiative. The description of the fundraiser reads:
“A group of plaintiffs including parents and St. Ambrose Academy are taking legal action to contest Public Health Madison & Dane County Emergency Order #9… the Dane County public health department has dealt county religious schools a crushing blow by holding them to far higher standards than other businesses.”
It’s important to note that Emergency Order #9 was only passed on Friday night. Included under the order was a “requirement that Dane County schools educate all students in grades three through 12 virtually… to slow the spread of COVID-19.” Students in kindergarten through second grade are allowed to receive in-person instruction under the order, as long as strict safety measures are followed.
Almost immediately following the announcement of the order, the fundraiser was launched. In just 19 hours, the fundraiser surpassed its original $60,000 goal, largely because there was widespread parent and staff opposition to the order. The new fundraiser goal is $80,000, and it has so far received donations from 568 individuals.
On the school’s Facebook page, St. Ambrose officials advertised the fundraiser on Saturday by writing:
“Please join us in ensuring that our children can return to school for in-person instruction this fall. To challenge the recent emergency order closing Dane County’s schools, St. Ambrose Academy is assembling a coalition of schools, benefactors, and families to share the cost of possible litigation associated with this legal challenge.”
The Diocese of Madison, which oversees fourteen Catholic schools in Dane County, also released a letter on Saturday “urging disgruntled parents to contact Dane County leaders.” Officials with the school added that it has spent “countless hours and many thousands of dollars putting into place the safety precautions mandated by public health.”
Any funds that are not used towards the lawsuit will go into a fund to offer tuition assistance for students.