State issues plan for safe return to school in fall
Wisconsin's education department has released guidance on a safe return to school in the fall.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction issued its Education Forward plan for districts as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
“The next school year will be likely be different from the learning environment students and teachers have grown accustomed to,” State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor said. “Education Forward is meant to provide information for educators and school officials as they make decisions regarding their school operations to keep all students and staff safe while learning.”
to view the full Education Forward plan.
The goals of a safe return to school are keeping students and staff safe; creating standards for in-person, virtual or distanced learning; meeting the needs of students; and designing flexible schedules.
The plan takes into consideration that a vaccine may not be in broad use for another year or longer. It also takes into account the potential for a second wave of infections.
DPI says schools should be prepared for change and new guidance when it comes to health and safety.
"Short-term closures of schools will remain a possibility until a vaccine is widely used," reads the plan.
Scheduling scenarios include a four-day week and a two-day rotation.
Within the schools, DPI encourages safer desk layouts, individually contained lunch options and staggering the arrival and dismissal of students for the day. It also said districts should have a designated isolation facility where students and staff members can go if exposed to COVID-19 at school.
DPI said daily health checks should be a priority, while attendance policies may need to be more flexible to encourage people to stay home if sick.
The Howard-Suamico School District released a statement, saying "We received the Education Forward Plan today. We will be analyzing its content over the next two days and we look forward to sharing it with the HSSD Task Force at our third planning meeting this week.”
The Unified School District of De Pere released a statement, saying "Our planning process aligns with the Education Forward guidance issued today by the Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction. A team of more than 30 teachers, pupil services providers, district leaders and others have been meeting online regularly to identify the challenges posed by a full return of students and staff to our buildings; a blended return with some online learning and some in-person learning; a return that consists of all online learning;and variations on each of these approaches. This work will continue through July. Our initial focus is to understand as clearly as possible the wide-ranging impacts of any return to school option, then to develop plans to address these impacts. This analysis will help us to both implement a selected plan and to pivot quickly if conditions require us to do so.
to look at those scenarios.
Wisconsin has an estimated one million students in its schools. The DPI will use federal CARES Act funds toward schools and the COVID-19 response.
Wisconsin transitioned to virtual learning in March as the coronavirus outbreak grew larger in the United States.