807 East Avenue South | La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601 | 608.789.7600
Reopening Schools

August 7, 2020 district communication

LA CROSSE, Wis., (July 28, 2020) – The La Crosse County Health Department had a press briefing today at 11:30 a.m. Jen Rombalski, the Health Department Director, was joined by Steve O’Malley, the County Administrator, Dr. Scott Rathgraber, the CEO of Gundersen Health System, and Dr. Paul Mueller, the Regional Vice President of Mayo Clinic Health System.

They indicated that the County is retiring the Compass and that a new series of metrics will be put in place. This process has not been shared with public school districts at this time.

In his remarks, Dr. Rathgraber said that schools, “have utilized the expert advice of the Health Department to develop excellent plans. We support the decisions they have made to balance education and safety.” He added, “We are not asking the school system to change their plans. Their plans are sound.” Dr. Mueller stated that “starting virtually might be a really good plan for whatever school districts involved.”

This pandemic is still a public health crisis. We rely on public health experts to evaluate the risk associated with COVID-19. We have no new guidance from the County. Until we can evaluate new County guidance, we will continue to move forward with our plan to start school virtually. This most recent press briefing confirmed the validity of the decisions we have made so far.

In an uncertain situation, made worse by the removal of local guidance, it is up to us to provide the certainty we can so families and staff can plan for the future. Regardless of the future process that is put in place, we still will not know what the conditions in our community will be on September 1st. The reasons to start virtually are still valid given these unknowns.

As always, we will respond to new information to provide a safe educational environment for staff and students. We look forward to new guidance from the County Health Department that will assist us in determining when it is safe to return students and staff to our school buildings. We will continue to send out updates as we learn more.


Aaron J. J. Engel, Ph.D.


School District of La Crosse