PHASE 4 AND 5:In-Person Learning Begins!

PHASE 4 AND 5: In-Person Learning Begins!
Posted on 03/08/2021
This is the image for the news article titled PHASE 4 AND 5: In-Person Learning Begins!On Monday, March 22, 2021, the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District will move to the final phases of its Return to School Plan.  According to Superintendent, Dr. Marty Lexmond it means Distance learning students (currently attending school) and In-Person students will return to school. “We have worked hard to get to this point and we’re grateful for all the collaboration, cooperation, and understanding along the way.  No one could have predicted we’d face a global pandemic -- the challenges have been staggering.  Above all, we worked to do things in the safest way possible -- knowing we’d have to adapt as we learned more from health experts.”

In Phases 4 & 5, elementary students will attend school five days a week and secondary students will attend school four days a week.  For secondary students, Wednesdays is a virtual learning day for the remainder of the year.  Virtual Learning students will remain at home for the remainder of the school year. 
 
There are still hurdles to overcome as our District balances in-person and virtual learners at the elementary level. One of our challenges is to reduce the number of elementary teachers who are teaching both in-person and virtual students while limiting the number of students who must change teachers. .“We need families to understand that there is no perfect solution,” said Superintendent, Dr. Marty Lexmond

With more students in schools, mitigation procedures will continue to be in place. “Over the past several months, we’ve taken a number of steps to increase air quality to the greatest extent possible. All of our Air Handling Units (AHUs) now exchange air at a rate of five to six times per hour. In addition, the AHUs within every building were upgraded to the highest level of filter that each AHU would support. Buildings went from a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of six to a MERV of 10 to 13.  Due to the varying ages of our buildings, some AHUs support higher levels of filters than others,” said Director of Finance and Operations, Caitlin Windler.

“As some of the older AHUs are not able to work as efficiently with MERV 13 filters, we explored alternatives for the rooms/areas not serviced by them. As a result, we purchased 400 Active Pure©  Air Purifiers for classrooms and other spaces that do not already have a MERV 13 rated filter. This technology was developed by NASA and includes UV Light HERE and meets the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief high priority standards for upgrading or adding new clean air ventilation systems. We continue to do all we can to ensure the safest environment for our staff and students.”  

Over $200,000 was spent on plexiglass and ample supplies of sanitizer and disinfectant are in stock. Stickers mark walking lanes and seating areas.  However, with more students attending school, social distancing will be limited. “All students (unless on a specified mask break or approved medical documentation) are still required to wear face coverings on school grounds. We have two masks for each student who is returning to school and clear face shields for students if educationally necessary,” adds Windler.

During Phases 4 and 5, about 5,400 students will attend school in-person and about 1,900 will remain virtual.  A Student Health Screener is emailed to families every Monday and Thursday at 6:00 a.m. HERE. It is used to help families determine if their child should attend school that day. The screener directs families and staff to report all positive or probable COVID-19 cases to the District Nurses via the email address COVIDWAWMNurses@wawmsd.org. It is designed to help manage potential disease spread in schools and address student/family/staff health needs.

“Throughout this historic time, we rely on our Health Metric Dashboard HERE and if there is a surge in the COVID-19 Burden Rate, we’ll make adjustments,” said Lexmond.  “With vaccinations becoming more readily available, I think brighter days are on the horizon.”

“It is hard to believe that it was almost one year ago, when the unexpected invasion of COVID-19 caused us all to make dramatic changes in our lives. Things are slowly returning to a new normal and we are so proud of our students, families, and staff.  We all worked together to handle the demands of these most unusual circumstances.”