Wisconsin Releases Guidelines For Going Back To School In Fall

MILWAUKEE, WI — Staggered start times, four-day school weeks, class rotations and smaller classroom groups are all among the recommendations Wisconsin school officials made Monday as districts across the state plan for a return to school this fall.

On Monday, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction published Education Forward, an 83-page report for Wisconsin district and school leaders to use as they plan for a return to school for the 2020-21 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers ordered all public and private schools to close on March 18 amid the pandemic.

‘“The next school year will likely be different from the learning environment students and teachers have grown accustomed to,” State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor said in a statement. “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.”

State officials said a combination of three options would be needed this fall: in-person learning, physically-distanced learning and virtual learning — acknowledging that plans could change out of necessity.

“A second wave of infections could result in site, district, county-wide, or regional school closures, in which case instructional models must be able to accommodate shifts between in-person and virtual learning,” officials said.

Officials said Education Forward should be used as a starting point as schools consider the decisions they need to make and the conversations they need to have with local health authorities and their communities.

The document includes information on infection control and mitigation, lays out sample learning scenarios, and provides specific considerations for special education students, English language learning students, gifted and talented students, school libraries, teaching and learning staff, school safety/mental health, and out-of school time programs.

Scheduling Scenarios for Physical Distancing

As schools reopen, officials provided the following examples of modified scheduling options.

Four-Day Week

• Each student level (elementary, middle, and high school) reports to school, outdoor learning spaces, or community-based organizations four full days a week. Schools are closed on the fifth day to allow for deep-cleaning.

• Students are provided with virtual learning materials—digital, analog, or a combination of the two formats—to support learning on those days when they do not report to school for in-person learning.

• All English learner, special education, gifted and talented, and resource teachers work with small groups of students to reduce the student-teacher ratios to 10/1 or fewer in each learning environment. Learning in outdoor spaces or partnerships with community based organizations may be needed to keep student-teacher ratios to 10/1 or fewer.

• One day per week is used for teacher planning and professional learning. On this day, students do not report to school but virtual learning continues.

Two-Day Rotation

• All students report to school, outdoor learning spaces, or community-based organizations two full days per week.

• Students are provided with virtual learning materials—digital, analog,or a combination of the two formats—to support learning on those days when they do not report to school for in-person learning.

• All English learner, special education, gifted and talented, and resource teachers work with small groups of students to reduce the student-teacher ratios to 10/1 or fewer in each learning environment. Learning in outdoor spaces or partnerships with community-based organizations may be needed to keep student-teacher ratios to 10/1 or fewer.

• One day per week is used for teacher planning and professional learning. On this day, students do not report to school but virtual learning continues.

A/B Week Rotation

• Half of the student population reports to school, outdoor learning spaces, or community-based organizations four full days per week for in-person learning while the other half of the school population participates in virtual learning at home. The two student groups alternate between in-person and virtual learning weekly. All grade bands are included.

• Students are provided with virtual learning materials—digital, analog, or a combination of the two formats—to support learning on those days when they do not report to school for in-person learning.

• All English learner, special education, gifted and talented, and resource teachers work with small groups of students to reduce the student-teacher ratios to 10/1 or fewer in each learning environment. Learning in outdoor spaces or partnerships with community-based organizations may be needed to keep student-teacher ratios to 10/1 or fewer.

• One day per week is used for teacher planning and professional learning. Students do not report to school on these days but continue learning independently.

Elementary Face-to-Face and Secondary Virtual Learning

• Elementary students start back to school first, before other levels. Elementary students attend four full days per week and are distributed across multiple sites (e.g., elementary and middle school buildings) to reduce the student-teacher ratio in accordance with physical distancing recommendations.

• Secondary students continue to engage in virtual learning.

• Students are provided with virtual learning materials—digital, analog, or a combination of the two formats—to support learning on those days when they do not report to school for in-person learning.

• All English learner, special education, gifted and talented, and resource teachers work with small groups of students to reduce the student-teacher ratios to 10/1 or fewer in each learning environment. Learning in outdoor spaces or partnerships with community-based organizations may be needed to keep student-teacher ratios to 10/1 or fewer.

• One day per week is used for teacher planning and professional learning. Students do not
report to school on these days but continue learning independently.

This article originally appeared on the Milwaukee Patch

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