De Pere School District looks at gating criteria to bring students back in-person

The guidance came from the Centers of Disease Control.
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 10:51 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - Action 2 News first told you over the weekend, students in the West De Pere School District returned to the classroom on Monday.

West De Pere switched to virtual learning on October 5th after opening in-person at the start of the school year.

On the other side of the Fox River, the Unified School District of De Pere discussed when and how students would return in-person after moving to virtual learning at the end of September.

The district is looking at the number of new cases per 100,000 and percentage of positive tests over 14 days in Brown County. The guidance came from the Centers of Disease Control.

Realistically, for students to return to school, the number of percent positive cases would need to be at or below eight percent.

Administrators are also taking into account the percentage of hospital and ICU beds occupied in Northeast Wisconsin.

As of Monday, Brown County had a 20 percent positive case rate over the last two weeks, according to the district’s calculations.

The availability of staff, transmission of the disease within the building and the number of students/staff quarantined, would also play a role in opening up schools.

While the school board did not take a formal vote on the gating criteria, the metrics will be used to make decisions on when students can return to in-person learning.

Administrators are hopeful the community can meet the standards to bring students back.

“As a community, we’re going to have to tighten some stuff up if we want to get those numbers back down; but I do think the level of prevalence of the disease within the community that would allow us to reopen, is attainable,” said Joseph Connelly, data and assessment specialist for the district.

“Where we really struggled is, we had students who chose face-to-face, but they were quarantined. So, it became an unwieldy process in terms of delivering a quality program for our children,” said Superintendent, Ben Villarruel.

Students are expected to go back to face-to-face learning on November 6, but the school board will meet again on November 2 to make a decision using the gating criteria.

Administrators will review the metrics once a week.

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