Students Return to School for Phase 2 & 3: Distance Learning

Students Return to School for Phase 2 & 3: Distance Learning
Posted on 02/08/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Students Return to School for Phase 2 & 3: Distance LearningOn Monday, February 1, 2021, families who selected to send their children to school for two days per week were able to do so bringing the start of a return to school.  “We have been planning for this since March of 2020,” said Superintendent, Marty Lexmond. “It’s been a lot of collaboration, problem-solving, and making sure things were in place. We are very thankful to our families and staff for their flexibility, cooperation, and positivity.”

“It’s been a bit emotional too,” adds Director of Leadership and Learning, Deidre Roemer. “We missed our students and we know they missed each other.  We got lots of feedback from our teachers about happy homecomings and special moments.  One in particular, involved two of our students at Wilson Elementary School HERE.”

Students in Phase 2 & 3 are part of Distance Learning which has been designed to support social distancing and safety.  Groups of students attend school two days a week; assigned to Team Monday-Tuesday or Team Thursday-Friday based on last names.  “Every child has a Method of Instruction listed on Skyward. Currently about 4,500 students are part of Distance learning while the rest continue to access virtual learning,” explains Roemer. “Families will have the next opportunity to review/revise the Method of Instruction at the beginning of fourth quarter.”

Over the past several months, a safety plan to limit the spread of COVID-19 has been put in place. Like every district, plexiglass, sanitizer, masks, school Isolation Rooms, and numerous safety considerations have been put in place.  A health metric dashboard is used to monitor the data related to COVID.

“While the spread hasn’t been linked to schools as much as we thought, it does continue to spread from social gatherings such as family parties and events.  We must remain vigilant -- practicing social distancing, wearing face masks and still singing that old ‘Birthday Song’ when washing our hands,” urges Lexmond.

Face Masks
The use of face masks remains in place despite recent political actions.  All students (unless on a specified mask break or approved medical documentation), staff, families, and visitors are required to wear face masks on school grounds (does not include inside of vehicles) in school buildings and on buses. “We have provided each staff member and student with two masks and face shields are available too,” said Director of Finance and Operations, Caitlin Windler.  

“Our Board of Education approved a face covering requirement in all school buildings and on school buses and we further extended that requirement to include when on school grounds. These expectations will not change regardless of any political action in Madison that rescinds the current statewide mask mandate,” adds Lexmond.

“To prevent the spread of COVID-19, visitor access to our schools is limited until further notice.  If necessary, visitors may report to the Main Office.  “We will continue to use drive up/drop off procedures for Material Pick-Up.  Parents, guardians, siblings of students, friends of students will not have access to classrooms.  We’re asking families to call the school Main Office if they need assistance,” adds Windler.

One of the key components to staying open is having staff and families report positive or probable cases of COVID-19 cases to the District Nurses via the email address  “We’re asking staff and families to include their name and /or their child's name, school, telephone number, email address and a brief summary of symptoms or situation.  A District nurse is following up using the information from emails,” said Director of Human Resources, Jeff Thomson. “So far our system is working well and we have worked to have additional staff in reserve if teachers are out due to illness. We are closely monitoring cases each day.”

“We developed our Return to School Plan based on guiding principles; Safety & Well-being, Learning that Works for All, Responsiveness & Flexibility and Practicality of Implementation,” said Lexmond.  “Over 50 people met with us to help give input.  Now we await further news about vaccines and we hope for brighter days ahead.”

“No plan that returns students and employees to schools can fully eliminate potential exposure to COVID-19 but we have been doing our very best to get to this moment and it feels good to see kids in classrooms again.”