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New Berlin superintendent announces 5-day return to school, takes back statement

School bus file photo
 Kids Learning While Schools Are Closed file photo
School student desk photo
Posted at 10:35 PM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 06:48:43-04

NEW BERLIN, Wis. — Wisconsin gives out guidance on how schools could go back to in-person learning this fall. The state’s deputy superintendent says it will be up to each individual district to come up with their own plan on how kids can be safe in schools during COVID-19.

“We’ll be ready to go as well as we can by September 1st,” said Bryan Davis, superintendent of the Shorewood School District.

That is when Shorewood would start. The superintendent said they are still considering a variety of options like using community buildings or not having all classes every day for high school students. But something as simple as full school buses could change what the school day looks like.

School bus file photo

“It is certainly possible that transportation could modify schedules. I think that’s why all districts are taking a look at everything from transportation to instruction models,” said Davis.

State education officials say flexibility is key for schools.

“I think we all expect our schools to open. It's a matter of how,” said Mike Thompson, deputy superintendent at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The new recommendations from the department of instruction outline several options including four-day weeks, where the last day is for deep cleaning and teachers to plan. A two-day rotation where half the students go to school Monday and Wednesday, the other half attend Tuesday and Thursday, then Friday is for teachers to plan virtual lessons for the days students aren’t in classrooms. Finally, a plan where only elementary students return and middle and high school students learn virtually.

The state’s deputy superintendent said one of these plans could happen or none, it is up to each district.

School student desk photo

Tonight, at the New Berlin School Board meeting, Superintendent Joe Garza said he doesn’t think the district will follow any of the guidelines. Garza announced New Berlin would return full time, five days a week.

“We are trying to get the best gauge where our families are at. But the comfort level is to send our kids back to school,” said Joe Garza, superintendent of the School District of New Berlin.

But that announcement brought an immediate reaction to some board members who felt parents should weigh-in before that decision was made.

“I feel like this one presentation while other districts are meeting five or six times over the next few months before they make their decision seems rather dismissive of the public health information provided today,” said Kate Unger, a school board member.

After that debate, the School District of New Berlin decided to hold off on planning to return with a five day week until surveys were sent out to parents. They will be able to voice their opinions on the issue.

The Shorewood School District says also plans to send out surveys before it makes any decision. Davis says that decision will likely come in early August.

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