By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — After being locked out by an overzealous health director, Mikaila Spiess can finally go back to school.
An Eau Claire County judge today dismissed a public health court order requiring the 14-year-old Eau Claire high school freshman to remain in quarantine at home. A hearing slated for Tuesday has been canceled.
On Sunday afternoon, Mikaila tested negative for COVID-19, as she and her mother Kita Busse suspected she would.
But Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Elizabeth “Lieske” Giese demanded the girl stay home Monday until the judge resolved the case. It was the latest vindictive act from an overreaching unelected health bureaucrat, Busse said.
“Lieske (Giese) told me that she was prepared to remove (Mikaila) today if she shows up to school,” the mother said. The health czar truculently pushed her power trip even as the county attorney assured Busse the case would be dismissed upon the negative test result, Busse said.
Last week, Giese ordered Mikaila to quarantine following an alleged close contact with a COVID positive student. Mikaila respectfully declined, and her mother stood by her decision. Mikaila previously had COVID and has natural immunity. She was not showing any symptoms. Mikaila also was following all the masking requirements in school, Busse said.
Busse said Giese heatedly told her she would get a judge to sign a court order and be at the house within 30 minutes. Instead, the health director stopped by with her own mandate she had prepared demanding Mikaila quarantine.
A mandate is not a law. Mikaila showed up at school Thursday morning.
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 has not returned Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment.
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.”
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.
Busse believes Giese’s public statements about individuals who aren’t “fully vaccinated” are a violation of health privacy laws. She said the health czar flaunted her authority and chafed at having her power questioned.
“When she refused to shake my hand (last week) it was totally a power play and everyone could see that,” Busse said.
Makaila was forced to stay home on Friday, awaiting COVID test results and the judge’s decision.
She is planning to return to school on Tuesday, but she’ll first be joining her mother and more than 100 fed-up citizens at 8 a.m. for a “peaceful protest” against the overreaching quarantine policy. The event will be held at the Eau Claire County Courthouse.
The teen feels the whole experience has been like the Salem Witch trials. She vows to sue if health and school officials go after her again. Mikaila, who transferred in this year from a private school, said she didn’t have a lot of friends to begin with. She lost most of the new friends she made over the past few days.
“They have ruined my freshman year,” Makaila said of the health department and school officials.