Shawano to remain in virtual learning into November

Superintendent hopes to have students back in school after Thanksgiving
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Shawano School District students will have to deal with all-virtual learning for at least another month, according to a letter released by the district Tuesday.

The letter, written by Superintendent Randi Anderson, was sent to parents informing them that the schools would not be back in session until at least Nov. 20. Anderson wrote the decision was reached due to the health and safety of the students, employees and community.

The school district first went into virtual learning on Sept. 23 for two weeks after cases in Shawano County started spiking, and then a decision was reached to continue the virtual learning for an additional two weeks. The district was planning to return to in-person learning next week when the latest announcement came out.

The full month in virtual learning came at the request of school staff members, according to Anderson.

“It’s just consistency for our staff and for our families,” Anderson said in a phone interview late Tuesday afternoon. “This helps them plan out for a little bit longer as we look at the (coronavirus) numbers and look at the forecasted numbers, we’re just not in a good situation.”

Anderson noted that Nov. 20 is the last day of school before the district’s week-long break for Thanksgiving, so she is hopeful that the district will return to in-person learning on Nov. 30.

“Obviously, if the numbers come back down, and we have the ability to come back in, we’ll come back in,” Anderson said.

To help families already struggling with utilizing technology in an area where internet infrastructure is limited, the district is taking several additional steps to help keep students on track. According to Anderson, the schools are bringing in students in small groups to help those who are falling behind. The pupil services and special education departments are working with individual students to help.

There are also internet cafes, where teachers and administrators are helping families with internet issues, and the technology department is holding one-on-one scheduled sessions to try and sort out any technology issues, according to Anderson.

“Some of our students are having difficulty with broadband or Wi-Fi access at their homes, so we’ve communicated out since we went into the virtual environment that they need to reach to their teacher and their building principal,” Anderson said about the internet cafes. “We have morning and afternoon slots, not for students to get instructed but to be able to come in and participate in school in a virtual environment and using our Wi-Fi access.”

Anderson said she hopes the district will be able to return to in-person learning once Thanksgiving is over, but that will depend greatly on the community.

“People need to physically distance, wash their hands and wear their face coverings so that we can get our students back in,” Anderson said. “We need help from our community.”