Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 3, 2021
By M.D. Kittle
UPDATE: Mikaila Spiess has since tested negative for COVID-19. So all of the strong-armed tactics to quarantine her because of an alleged close contact with someone who had COVID protected no one, the family says.
MADISON — Chafing at being openly defied, Eau Claire’s health czar sought a court order and asked law enforcement officials to forcibly remove 14-year-old Mikaila Spiess from her high school, the girl and her mother tell Empower Wisconsin.
Now the Eau Claire freshman has been ordered to appear in court as she faces forced quarantine.
Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Elizabeth “Lieske” Giese ordered Mikaila to quarantine following an alleged close contact with a COVID positive student. Mikaila respectfully declined, and her mother, Kita Busse is standing by her. Mikaila previously had COVID and has natural immunity. She has not tested positive for COVID nor is she showing any symptoms. Mikaila also follows all the masking requirements in school, Busse said.
“I told the principal what my daughter told me, what she wanted to do,” Busse said. “We had a pleasant conversation, even though we disagreed with each other. I told him unless there’s a physician affidavit and a court order by a judge she’s attending school.”
A conversation with Giese was not as pleasant, Busse said. The health czar heatedly said she would get a judge to sign a court order and be at the house within 30 minutes. Instead, Giese stopped by with her own mandate she had prepared demanding Mikaila quarantine.
A mandate is not a law, Busse said. So Mikaila showed up at school Thursday morning. She went to her first class — Yearbook — and was greeted coldly by her teacher.
“My teacher said ‘good morning’ in a way that made me feel uneasy. She then stepped out of the room.,” Michael said. “She then came in and said, ‘Mikaila you need to step out in the hall.’”
The freshman said she respectfully declined her teacher’s request. Then school administration, led by the health director, got involved.
Mikaila said the students in her first class were ordered out of the room and the principal stayed with her as she quietly resisted. She said the principal said something like, ‘You might as well go home, because I can do this all day.” Mikaila responded, “So can I.”
And that’s how the day went. Mikaila going to each of her classes, with her fellow students moved to separate rooms. The only exception was her Spanish class. Her teacher told administrators that Mikaila would learn in her class, with her fellow students, although they would be separated.
The freshman said she felt ostracized, like she was being bullied by adults and that her classmates looked at her like she had the plague.
“You know how if you take a puppy away from its mother? It’s like that,” she said.
All the while, Mikaila said, Giese was telling school administrators what they should do, They should suspend her, remove her from the school.
Busse believes the principal was being bullied by the county health officer. She said she felt bad for him and sent him an email saying she understood his predicament and that she was praying for him. The principal allowed Mikaila to go to lunch and to her outdoor gym class, Busse said.
Eau Claire Area School District Superintendent Michael Johnson did not return a request for comment.
Giese finally got her court order by the end of the day. Busse said the health czar wanted four armed police officers to escort her daughter out of the building, dragging her if necessary. Busse, seeing the officers present, decided to take Mikaila home to prevent any more trauma. The principal, she said, encouraged that course of action.
“She was very respectful but stood her ground for an entire day of manipulation,” Busse said of her daughter.
Giese defended her actions, saying, “Quarantine is required by state law for anyone who is exposed to COVID-19 and is not fully vaccinated.” But many counties don’t stringently enforce COVID quarantine the way Eau Claire County’s health department apparently does.
“The Health Department continues to support vaccination (for those eligible) as a way to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 and eliminate the need to quarantine after a vaccinated individual has been exposed,” Giese wrote in an email to Empower Wisconsin. “For confidentiality purposes we do not speak to any specific individual situation.”
Busse believes Giese’s public statement about individuals who aren’t “fully vaccinated” is a violation of health privacy laws.
An official from the Eau Claire County District Attorney’s office said the agency is not involved in the matter.
Busse and Mikaila have been ordered to appear Tuesday morning in Eau Claire County Court — via Zoom, according to the court order obtained by Empower Wisconsin.
Mikaila said even though most of her friends abandoned her and many of her teachers treated her as if she were a criminal, she’s fighting for what she believes is right.
“I’m not scared. I’m not intimidated,” the 14-year-old said.
Mikaila and her mother are planning a peaceful protest outside the Eau Claire County Courthouse at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday.