Evers Extends Safer-at-Home Order, Students Not Returning to School

Nick Bumgardner, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

With the swipe of a pen, it’s been made official—Wisconsin schools will not be returning for the remainder of the academic year.  

The news comes as Governor Tony Evers signed his extension of the state’s “safer-at-home” order until May 26, citing the need to continue the fight against COVID-19.

The recent extension will go beyond the current federal “stay-at-home” order, which is set to expire April 30.

Wisconsin joins more than a dozen other states, most notably New York and California, who have also extended their orders beyond the White House deadline.

“I know a lot of folks are concerned about the effects this will have on workers and businesses across the state, and believe me, no one wants to reopen our economy more than I do,” explained Evers.

“As I’ve said all along, we are going to rely on the science and public health experts to guide us through this challenge. So, as we extend safer-at-home, I need all of you to continue doing the good work you’ve been doing so we can keep our families, our neighbors and our communities safe, and get through this storm together,” he continued.

In addition to “safer-at-home,” Evers has also extended the state’s classification of COVID-19 as a “public health emergency” until May 12.

“If we open up too soon, we risk overwhelming our hospitals and requiring more drastic physical distancing measures again,” said Department of Human Services Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm.

The move, however, was not devoid of criticisms.

Assembly Republicans, including Speaker Robin Vos, notified the Governor that, “Legislative Republicans are planning to act with legal and legislative options to deal with the extension of the order and get answers to the questions our constituents are demanding.”

“We’re angry, we’re frustrated and we’re trying to push back in every way that we can…,” he continued.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, also expressed his discontent with the extension of the order, criticizing Evers for his “one-size-fits-all approach” to COVID-19 and claimed extending the order for another month without a plan for a gradual reopening of the economy is “simply unacceptable.”

Despite extending the “safer-at-home” order, Evers did loosen restrictions, starting at the end of April, for select non-nonessential businesses, including libraries and arts and craft stores, so long as they follow social distancing guidelines.

Select non-essential businesses will be able to provide delivery and curbside pickup options starting on April 24.

Golf courses across the state will also be opening at the end of the month, with social distancing guidelines being enforced, clubhouses being closed to the public, and all tee-time payments being conducted over the phone.

“We can’t think of this like flipping a light switch; it’s like turning a dial,” Evers said.

“I want to be honest with you folks, things won’t get back to normal until there’s a vaccine and treatment for this disease and even then our new normal will not be the same as our old normal…This will be a slow and gradual process,” he concluded.

The Governor’s official order can be accessed here.