Board begins studying ways to resume fall classes

Grafton officials consider DPI recommendations in preparing for students, teachers to be back in schools
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Grafton School Board is weighing its options for students and teachers to return to the classroom in fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.    

“The goal of the district is to have in-person (classes) in fall,” School Board President Paul Lorge said during Monday’s board meeting.

The same day, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released nearly 90 pages of recommendations that outline options for schools, including a mix of in-person and online learning. 

The scenarios range from a four-day in-person school week to split schedules that would have groups of students in school on different days or weeks with schools closed one day for cleaning while students learn from home.

The DPI also said school districts should be prepared to shift between in-person, physically distanced classes and online learning. 

“When you look at the guidelines, none of them say five days of in-person,” Grafton Supt. Jeff Nelson said. “In my mind, the goal is to have five days of in-person learning.”

Physical distancing may mean reducing class sizes by having students attend school in staggered groups or in shifts. 

“These are guidelines, these are not rules,” Nelson told the board. “Local control makes the decision.” 

Nelson said the district has been in communication with the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department, its legal counsel and neighboring districts to discuss how to safely reopen schools.

Students or family members who have health issues may have remote learning accommodations, Nelson said, adding teachers were surveyed last week to determine if they are able to return to the classroom due to an underlying condition.

Nelson said there are other factors to be considered, including lunch, recess, busing, wearing masks and passing through the hallways between classes.

He also said it is likely that there may be a school closure if there is a second wave of cases or if a student or staff member is diagnosed with Covid-19.

“We are going to have to have opportunities to adjust quickly so what you’re doing in school is very similar to what’s happening at home and learning isn’t compromised,” Nelson said.

The consensus among board members was to have students return to classrooms in fall.

“I think the definite preference is in-school learning. I think there are going to be situations that we’re going to adhere to and respect,” School Board member Mark Koehler said.

Nelson said he will return to the board in July with more options. 

“Things are changing every day and we will have a better understanding of how to re-open school in the coming weeks,” he said. 



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