COVID-19: Resources for Community Leaders
As a community leader, your voice matters. Many families and guardians look to you to help them make informed decisions. You play an important role, but you’re not alone. We’ve developed resources that contain the latest facts, conversation guides and more to aid decision-makers as they plan, prepare, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 Response Toolkit
In this toolkit, you’ll find:
- Talking points for community leaders
- Frequently asked questions and answers for community leaders
- Social media conversation starters
- Email templates
- Additional resources on best practices for schools and COVID-19
We’ve learned a lot since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. One thing that cannot be overlooked is how important it is to keep our kids healthy for in-person learning. And now, we have more tools to do this. The following are some key talking points on why keeping kids in school is a top priority:
In school learning provides:
- A safe and supportive learning environment
- Social and emotional development
- Access to critical services like school lunch programs and special education
- Employment for many in the community
- An important infrastructure for the community through sports, music and arts programs, clubs, and other social gatherings.
- Access to technology and the internet
- In-person instruction for better, more attentive learning
Multiple studies have shown COVID-19 transmission rates within school settings are typically lower than, or similar to, community transmissions when multiple prevention strategies are in place. When we keep our schools safe, we keep our kids and their teachers safe. If everyone does their part, in-school learning can continue, which means children can continue to learn in the most effective way possible.
Our community needs a multi-layer strategy for continuing in-person school. If everyone does their part, in-school learning can continue, and children can continue to learn in the most productive and safe way possible.
Schools and community leaders can:
- Promote the COVID-19 vaccines for ages 5 and up — They are safe, effective, and our best prevention strategy for stopping the spread.
- Require the wearing of a well-fitted mask in school and public indoor settings — When all students, staff, teachers, visitors, and others wear masks ¬correctly, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are protected.
- Ensure families know the symptoms of COVID-19 — Parents and guardians should be encouraged to get kids tested if they think their child has been exposed and to keep kids home when they’re sick or at risk.
- Adopt additional strategies — Options include ensuring good ventilation, practicing physical distancing, and hand washing.
Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as local health departments and your local school system can all provide more detailed guidance for how to keep our kids learning, active, and safe.
Use these answers to frequently asked questions to inform your own responses.
While vaccinations are available to anyone ages 5 and up, there are still some who have opted not to be vaccinated. In accordance with CDC guidance, it is recommended schools require universal masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors regardless of vaccination status. It’s an extra layer of protection to keep everyone safe.
Regular, in-person attendance is one of the best ways to help kids maintain their emotional and social well-being. Schools give children access to critical services like internet, food service programs, counselors, and more. Kids who receive in-school learning also have the support they need to reach educational and developmental milestones that are important for a child’s continued growth and lifelong health.
There are many reasons why most children don’t experience serious COVID-19 illness as often as adults. The safety protocols that surround Wisconsin kids who receive in-school learning may contribute to their better health. We can strengthen those protections by encouraging families to learn more about the vaccine for kids ages 5 and up and get eligible children vaccinated. Following other safety steps that help protect our kids and communities from COVID-19 can help, too, like:
- Wearing a mask in public
- Practicing physical distancing
- Covering coughs and sneezes
- Keeping kids home when they experience symptoms or are exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19
- Getting kids tested if they have symptoms or may have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19
Outbreaks in schools are typically investigated by the local or tribal health department in close collaboration with school health care providers, teachers, and staff to carefully and quickly gather information on cases and identify close contacts. The primary goal of an outbreak investigation is to ensure close contacts are identified as quickly as possible so they can take proper precautions (quarantining and testing) to minimize the further spread of an outbreak.
Fever, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches and pain, and joint pain, can occur following a COVID-19 vaccination. Preliminary data from mRNA COVID-19 vaccine trials indicate that these systemic post-vaccination signs and symptoms are:
- Mild to moderate in severity
- Experience within the first three days of vaccination (the day of vaccination and the following two days, with most occurring the day after vaccination).
- Over within 1-2 days of onset.
- Sometimes more common and severe following the second dose for younger people, compared to those who are ages 55 and older.
Students and staff who experience systemic signs and symptoms that are inconsistent with COVID-19 post-vaccination symptoms may be excluded from school settings. These signs and symptoms—which include cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell—may indicate a COVID-19 infection or another illness.
Yes, anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should follow exclusion criteria.
Yes, if the student or faculty/staff member is not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations, they should stay home and quarantine. An antibody test should not be used to determine the need for quarantine following close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
Use the social media conversation starters below to start conversations with your neighbors on COVID-19 safety and the importance of helping our kids stay safe and in school.
- It works. It's free. The science is sound. It keeps my family and community healthy. Get the COVID-19 vaccine.
- I got my shot to help keep everyone safe. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, free, and effective.
- I'm stopping the spread of COVID-19 with my vaccination!
- I have the best protection from COVID-19: my vaccination.
- It's been tested and proven safe for kids ages 5 and up. My pediatrician backs the COVID-19 vaccine for all eligible kids.
- Get vaccinated and help fight COVID-19.
- A free vaccine to avoid costly repercussions. let's beat COVID-19. Get vaccinated.
- So much protection. Zero cost. Get the FREE COVID-19 vaccine.
- Find your local COVID-19 FREE vaccination site today.
- Masks make a difference. Wear 'em right and make sure they fit. Let's end COVID-19.
- When you wear 'em right, it helps win the fight. Masks help stop the spread of COVID-19.
- A little physical distancing can help keep COVID-19 from spreading!
- Stay safe by staying 6 feet apart. Help stop the spread of COVID-19.
- I stay home when I'm sick. Doing my part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- I get tested when I have symptoms. Doing my part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- I get tested and stay home if I'm exposed to COVID-19. Doing my part to stop the spread.
- Keep everyone safe - especially the most at risk. Mask up and stay 6 feet apart to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Let's keep our kids in school. Get the vaccine against COVID-19.
- Remember to get tested and stay home if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
Email to parents
Subject line: Let's work together to keep our communities healthy and safe
Like you, I have a real love for our community, and I want to do what I can to keep everyone in it healthy and safe from the effects of COVID-19. Our parents are an important part of that effort. When you take the proper precautions to protect your family from COVID-19, you’re also helping to protect our community.
I encourage you to protect yourself with as much knowledge as you can about COVID-19 vaccines and talk to trusted sources, like health care providers. Ask them questions; the answers will give you confidence about the decisions you make for your family.
If we work together, we will get through this together.
You’ll find more helpful tips on how you can keep your family and our community safe in this COVID-19 Response Toolkit.
Wishing you good health,
[NAME AND TITLE]
[OPTIONAL CONTACT INFORMATION]
Email to peers and other leaders
Subject line: Our community needs you
Thank you for your leadership in our community. As a community leader, people look up to you and are influenced by your decisions. That means you can make a difference in protecting our community from the spread of COVID-19. It has been proven that the vaccines are our best defense, so I urge you to use your voice to encourage vaccination in our community. If you encounter doubts, encourage individuals to talk to their health care providers and get their questions answered. A COVID-19 Parent Toolkit is also available with tips and other helpful resources.
These are unprecedented times that require all of us to band together to get through this stronger. Your help in keeping our community safe is very appreciated.
I thank you for your help and wish you good health,
[NAME AND TITLE]
[OPTIONAL CONTACT INFORMATION]
When it comes to best practices for schools and COVID-19, there is no shortage of helpful information. There are many resources available to answer your questions and learn more.
Get answers to all your COVID-19 questions, including information on the best preventative techniques.
For Ages 5 and older: what parents and guardians should know
English | Hindi | Hmong | Somali | Spanish
- Wisconsin's K-12 School Testing Program: See an overview of the program’s features, why it’ important, and how to implement it. Visit the school testing program webpage.
- COVID-19 Guidelines for Schools: Learn about the latest recommendations from DHS and CDC as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve. Visit the K-12 schools webpage.
Share or embed videos on staying safe and in school on your own website or social media channels. See our full video playlist.