CHIPPEWA FALLS — Despite a rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the Chippewa Falls School District, including four outbreaks tied to their schools, the district announced it is going to a voluntary quarantine system, effective immediately.

Superintendent Jeff Holmes made the announcement in a letter released to parents Friday night.

“As of (Monday), students who had been previously advised to quarantine for a close contact at school will now be allowed to resume attending school in-person and participating in co- and extra-curricular activities as long as they are not symptomatic COVID-positive, asymptomatic COVID positive, or have a positive case within the household,” Holmes wrote. “Essentially, (the Chippewa Falls School District) now has a voluntary quarantine system of all close contacts as determined by (the Chippewa County Department of Public Health.)”

The change to a voluntary system comes at the same time Holmes acknowledged the district had 77 more students either in isolation or quarantine in the past week, bringing the district’s total to 81 positive COVID-19 cases, leading to 559 students in isolation or quarantine.

Holmes said that anyone who was a close contact to someone who is COVID-positive is requested to get tested within six days, but is not required to be tested.

The district’s mandatory mask requirements inside all school buildings remains in effect.

The Chippewa Falls School District joins the New Auburn School District among Chippewa County Schools who have switched to the voluntary quarantine system. The Chippewa County Department of Public Health immediately released a statement Friday saying the agency and school districts “continue to recommend that students be quarantined after being exposed to the COVID-19 virus.”

“Parents are also urged to closely symptom monitor students who have been exposed to the virus and identified as a close contact,” the county agency wrote in its statement.