Evers Says No 'Secret Plan' to Close Schools

The governor said he does not have a plan to use the new public health emergency to close schools like he did in the spring.

By Will Kenneally

August 4, 2020

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Gov. Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers speaks a Lincoln Elementary in Wauwatosa Feb. 26, 2020.

The governor said he had no “secret plan” to move schools all-virtual in the fall during a Tuesday news conference–his first since his statewide mask mandate went into effect.

“Clearly, the virus is not in a position right now [for us] to say exactly what it’s going to be like September 1st, but indeed, if people want to have a successful school year and beginning of a school year wearing a mask [is important],” said Gov. Tony Evers.

On Saturday, the governor’s new public health emergency declaration went into effect, and with it an order requiring Wisconsinites 5 and older to wear masks in enclosed spaces outside their homes. Some Republican’s criticized the move as overreaching and said the governor could use the public health emergency to close all schools as he did in March.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said members of the state Senate were prepared to convene to overturn the governor’s public health emergency declaration as early as this week or next. Fitzgerald acknowledged the governor’s comments that he is not looking to close schools, but said he was warry.

“I appreciate the governor’s statements that support in-person instruction, but actions speak louder than words. Earlier this spring, the governor flip-flopped on whether to issue a stay-at-home order. He flip-flopped on whether to move the April 7th Election,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m fearful that he will cave to pressures from liberal groups and backtrack once again.”

He urged Wisconsinites to continue to pressure the governor to support in-person instruction.

In the wake of a possible legislative session to overturn the public health emergency declaration, Evers called it a “significant mistake.”

“We have lots of things we want to do in this state, making sure our kids have good education, making sure that our businesses are strong, and making sure that we can have an economic recovery. And one of the ways to do that is to wear a mask, and that’s why we did this order,” he said.

If the emergency declaration was reversed, it would also affect the governor’s ability to activate the national guard, which Evers said would help municipal clerks in next Tuesday’s upcoming election.

National guard troops worked polls during the April election in plain clothes, and could help in August as the Wisconsin Elections Commission issued a statement Tuesday that the state is short 900 poll workers.

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