November 3, 2020
This past week a team consisting of staff, nurses, supervisors, county health department, administration, board members, and our medical liaison collaborated to review county/district COVID-19 data and to brainstorm future educational programming options. We reflected on what caused us to move to virtual programming, which was primarily due to our inability to sustain daily operations as a result of high quarantine numbers. We reviewed the data from the district dashboard as well as CDC core and secondary indicator data for Oconto County. We also discussed our mitigation strategies and possible options related to returning to a more face to face environment versus maintaining the mostly virtual environment that we’re currently in. This meeting was followed by multiple followup meetings with other smaller groups which culminated in the decision to return to a face to face model of programming starting on November 9, 2020.
On November 9, all students will return to face to face programming similar to how we started the school year. All students K-12 will attend school four days per week face to face (M,T,Th,F) following their normal start and end times for their school’s schedule. On Wednesdays, student in grades 2-12 will be involved in modified virtual programming from 8:00 to 1:45.
Given that we anticipate the potential of increased spread due to gatherings during the holidays and activities that often accompany the Wisconsin deer season, we have modified the school calendar. Days that were previously scheduled for face to face learning will now be changed to virtual instruction (see the color coded calendar below). This will enable us to implement two virtual windows between now and January that align with the holiday breaks. In doing so we create a buffer with each holiday break to allow any spread to subside before returning to school face to face. This action better supports our ability to sustain face to face educational programming while keeping in mind the activities that surround the holidays which will most likely result in increased spread in our area. It is important to note that we will continue to follow CDC guidelines in our collaboration with the Oconto County Health Department to conduct close contract tracing. We anticipate that the effect of these actions will be the identification of students and staff that will need to quarantine.
It is important to note that after reviewing our internal and local data we believe that this course of action provides us the best opportunity to sustain a format of face to face instruction that will better enable staff to assist students with their learning. At the same time this plan includes strategies to reduce the number of close contacts that result in students and staff needing to be quarantined. Through the next two months we will follow the new calendar that is presented here. As we approach January 4, 2021 we will review the data from November and December to determine if we need to implement a buffer of virtual learning following the holiday break. Unless data proves otherwise, we will start back with face to face learning on January 4, 2021. Please note that if during the next two months we experience a situation where we are unable to maintain face to face instruction we will communicate with families and make a programming adjustment back into a virtual environment.
As we look to the future, it is critical that we all work together to do what we can to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Through our actions to wear face coverings, socially distance, and avoid activities where the possibility of spread is increased, we can positively impact our ability as a school district to remain in a face to face learning environment.
Dean R. Hess
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