JUNEAU — Dodgeland School Board members agreed Monday night to allow parents to make the decision on the form of education for students when school resumes Sept. 1.
“Our plan requires flexibility as we will likely need to make adjustments, quarantine groups and/or close throughout this pandemic,” Dodgeland Schools District Administrator Annette Thompson said. “Our plan simply represents our best efforts to get students back into the building and keep everyone safe.”
Thompson said, although the plan looks simple in its design, many hours of work went into developing it.
She said information from the Dodge County Public Health Department, Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, the Department of Public Instruction, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, numerous federal, state and regional webinars, sessions with attorneys, and weekly meetings with area school districts, which included representation from Dodge County’s Public Health Department, is reflected in the plan.
“It should also be noted that we surveyed our parents and our staff, but quickly learned strong differences of opinions exist between these surveys regarding how to re-open school safely this fall,” Thompson said. “That being said, there was agreement in both surveys: our students need to be back in school with us.”
The re-opening plan includes three options of learning for parents to choose from. Parents are asked to select an option no later than Aug. 15.
She said all students will be graded by letter and not by pass/fail. Also, Thompson stressed the re-opening plan begins at home. The district will not be taking temperatures of the students, but will rely on the parents or the student’s guardian to check the daily health of the students.
“When we talked with our attorney, we knew would not be able to get everyone to consent,” Thompson said.
She said students who are sick are asked to remain at home. Students, who display symptoms while at school, will be placed in the designated “isolation room.” Parents and/or guardians will be called and asked to promptly retrieve their child, take him or her to their physician and follow that doctor’s guidance. Isolation rooms will be sanitized after each child’s visit.
In 4K-sixth grades, the three options include: in-person, live-streamed blended learning and virtual school. The first two options are available for students in grades 7-12 with classes from 7:50 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. The third option for secondary students is online coursework, which students participate in online courses monitored by a Dodgeland staff member. A full schedule will be created using a catalog of courses available for varying abilities and interests. Students will need to be able to create their own daily schedule and work independently through online coursework in order to complete the coursework by the end of the semester.
In-person learning for the primary grade levels means school is in session from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with social distancing precautions in place. If students are not socially distanced from one another they will be wearing face covering as will teachers. The buildings will be disinfected with hospital-grade cleaners during and after school. The water fountains will be shut off but bottle fillers will be made available. Also, breakfast and lunch will be served in the classrooms. Students will take their iPads and charges home each day.
The live-streamed blended learning option is for students, who are at home, but using district-issued technology. Students will see their teacher teaching from their classroom following the school day schedule. This short-term option allows for those who are not sure about physically returning to school for in-person instruction to stay current with their peers in anticipation of eventually returning to in-person instruction. This option will also be used if a student has any symptoms of illness or a student, cohort, grade or building has to be quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19.
As for the last option, Dodgeland has partnered with a virtual school in order to provide a completely online option for kindergartners through sixth grade, while remaining a Dodgeland student. Students participating in this option will remain in the virtual school for an entire semester. The virtual school will supply the technology/workbooks to be used at the student’s home. Students will need to be able to work independently through online lessons and will have a teacher from the virtual school available to check progress and provide assistance. At the end of the semester, the student may continue at the virtual school or switch to either the in-person or live-streamed options.
Social distancing will be practiced as much as possible. Classrooms will be cleared of extraneous furniture to allow student desks to be spaced as far apart as possible. However, we want to be clear: we cannot guarantee that students will be socially distanced at all times.
“Knowing social distancing will not be occurring at all times, it is important to know that health officials consider a “contact” as any interaction that occurs when individuals are less than six feet apart for more than 15 minutes,” Thompson said. “When students are less than six feet apart, they will be required to wear face coverings.”
Students in grades 4K-sixth grades will be placed in “cohorts,” which will remain together throughout the day.
Students in grades seventh-12 will have desks spaced as far apart as possible, but will be rotating to their classes throughout the day. Between each class, students will be cleaning their workspace with supplies provided by the district to ensure the next student has a clean workspace from which to work.
Upon arrival, students will go to their locker to secure their personal items and then proceed directly to their homeroom (elementary school students) or first hour classroom (middle or high school students).
Dismissal will be staggered. Thompson said details are still be worked on, but there will there will be new traffic flow procedures and locations for dropping off and picking up students at the building for all levels. After-school care will be provided by the YMCA of Dodge County. Before-school care is being considered.
As for riding the buses, Thompson said students must wear face coverings to ride, one student per seat and the student must be seated next to the window, family members may be seated in the same seat, hands must be sanitized as students enter and exit the bus, and students are asked to practice social distancing while waiting at bus stops.
The district will be implementing a new process for loading and unloading buses at the school to provide greater separation between age groups. Details and a diagram will be forthcoming.
The student parking pass fee is waived to encourage more students to drive to school rather than take the bus.
Thompson said the school building is closed to visitors, including parents, unless an appointment is scheduled with school personnel. Additionally, parents who walk their children to and from school must remain outside and physically distanced from other individuals. Individuals making deliveries to the school building are required to wear a face covering at all times.