STOCK Verona Area High School March 2020

The student entrance to Verona Area High School.

Students in the Verona Area School District will not be coming back to school for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Under the updated “Safer at Home” order from Gov. Tony Evers and state Department of Health Services secretary-designee Andrea Palm, all schools in the state, both public and private, are barred from holding in-person classes until the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Released April 16, the update also extends the “Safer at Home” order until May 26.

The “Safer at Home” order, which took effect March 25, seeks to limit the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 was deemed a pandemic March 11, and Evers announced the closure of schools on March 13, starting five days later, initially at least through April 6. That possible reopening date was later extended to until further notice and then changed again to April 24 after the original “Safer at Home” order was announced.

Verona Area School District superintendent Dean Gorrell said that while he’s not surprised the “Safer at Home” order was extended with school cancelled for the remainder of the year, it’s something he’s sad about.

“I am personally mourning the loss of my son’s time with his incredible teachers. That story plays out thousands of times across our district,” he wrote in an email to the Press on Thursday afternoon. “And, I am mourning the loss of time our teachers would have had with our incredible students. That can never be recaptured.”

The updated order makes several adjustments to the original.

Non-essential businesses are allowed to conduct minimum basic operations, public libraries are allowed to provide curbside pick-up and golf courses are allowed to open again, with certain restrictions.

All retail stores must meet new minimum disinfecting and cleaning requirements. Stores that are more than 50,000 square feet must limit the number of customers in the store and must provide at least two hours of dedicated shopping hours a week for vulnerable populations. In Verona, those stores are Miller and Sons Supermarket, Festival Foods and Farm and Fleet.

The order also gives local health officials the authority to close public parks or open spaces, should there be too many people there to maintain social distancing guidelines, or there are multiple violations of the order that could lead to potential harm.

Evers said in a televised address shortly after releasing the order he’s relying on the good work that’s already been done by residents to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“A few weeks ago, we had a pretty grim outlook for what COVID-19 could mean for our state, but because of the efforts of all of you, Safer at Home is working. That said, we aren’t out of the woods just yet,” Evers said. “As I’ve said all along, we are going to rely on the science and public health experts to guide us through this challenge.

DHS claims the Safer at Home order is working, based on numbers of new cases of COVID-19. In a tweet from the department April 14, graphs show the state is significantly below what the caseload was projected to be by the end of March. An email from DHS that day stated the rate of doubling new infections had dropped from 3.4 days to 12 days.

“Our initial projections show that without Safer at Home, there would be significantly more cases of COVID-19, resulting in more deaths,” the graphic stated. “Safer at Home has flattened the curve, resulting in fewer cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.”

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.