Dear Friends,

Wisconsin will soon pass four million vaccine doses administered and more than 1.6 million residents are fully vaccinated. I am encouraged by how many are getting vaccinated.

Everyone in Wisconsin 16 and older is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. If you are eligible and are having trouble finding the COVID-19 vaccine in your area, the State of Wisconsin now has a map of vaccine providers. The website not only helps link people to the vaccine but also provides information on how the state is distributing doses. The state also has a COVID-19 Vaccine Assistance Hotline. The hotline is offering personal assistance for vaccine-related questions. The toll-free number is 1-844-684-1064.

Please continue to be careful and follow CDC guidelines. Continue to wear a mask when necessary, practice social distancing, wash your hands, and get vaccinated.

As always, if you have any concerns or ideas on how to improve our great state, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone at 608-266-5830 or by email at Sen.Darling@legis.wisconsin.gov.

On, Wisconsin!
School Start Date Bill
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating effect on children's mental health and academic success. Students are falling behind and those who are low-income, minorities, students with disabilities, and students learning English are suffering the most. Even though it would dramatically help to get kids back into the classroom sooner, our schools can't open this fall until September 1st.

On Wednesday, I testified in favor of my bill to give school districts the flexibility to pick their own start date. Under current law, public schools cannot begin fall classes before September 1st unless granted a waiver by the Department of Public Instruction. Senate Bill 182 empowers local school boards to decide if an earlier start date is in the best interest of their students. This bill would not require districts to begin school before September 1st, nor will it affect the number of days schools are required to be in session.

There are compelling academic reasons for allowing school districts the authority to set an earlier date for the start of fall classes. Many students take Advanced Placement (AP) courses throughout their academic year. Advanced Placement Exams, usually conducted in the first half of May, determine if students will receive AP credit toward college. Since the College Board sets the Advanced Placement Exams, local school districts are unable to alter the administration of these tests. Once these tests conclude, many students remain in AP classes for several weeks which could have been better spent preparing for these tests beforehand.

Additionally, many students who participate in fall sports or other elective courses are already on campus in August. In many instances, schools schedule their first football game or another fall athletic competition before classes are in session.

Due to the September 1st mandate, public schools cannot begin summer vacation until the second or third week of June. Many summer academic enrichment programs and mentoring opportunities have already started by this time, meaning public school students miss the beginning of these programs.

It is an understatement to say this school year has been anything short of extraordinary. The COVID-19 pandemic has put new strains on learning. Senate Bill 182 will give school districts another tool to minimize the amount of learning loss that has occurred. This act will first apply to the commencement of the 2022-23 school term.
Darling Named Friend of Housing
This week I was honored to receive the 2020 Friend of Housing Award from the Wisconsin Builders Association (WBA).

The WBA has been advocating for the housing industry for more than 70 years and is made up of 21 local associations.

A special thanks to WBA Executive Director Brad Boycks for presenting me with the award.
COVID-19 Vaccine, Testing Information
Please Donate Blood, Plasma
One way you can help is by donating blood. If you have recovered from COVID-19, please especially consider donating your plasma.

You can find out where to donate here and here.
COVID-19 Cases in Our Area
The table above contains data reported on April 21, 2021 from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on coronavirus cases in our area.
Emergency Room Visits with COVID Symptoms
Around the 8th...