Shawano School District, Gresham School going virtual

In-person attendance shut down for 2 weeks due to COVID-19
NEW Media Staff

The Shawano School District will close classrooms and go 100% virtual for at least two weeks starting Tuesday due to the county’s surge in COVID-19 cases over the past week.

Hillcrest Primary School will close immediately for the rest of this week, due to the inability to provide staff coverage for the school, Superintendent Randi Anderson said in a letter to district parents.

Other Shawano schools will finish out the week.

There will be no school Monday while district staff converts their instruction to delivering it virtually starting on Tuesday.

“We are taking these two weeks to reset and recover in hope to resume instruction face to face in mid-October,” Anderson said.

Anderson said it was the most difficult decision she has had to make in her 32-year educational career.

“Shawano County numbers continue to go in the wrong direction,” she said. “We, as a district, have done an incredible job of mitigating the risk to staff and students. Unfortunately we are at a breaking point with staff in the classroom.”

Confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Shawano County jumped by 220 over the course of a week, from 410 on Sept. 15 to 630 on Sept. 22, with 100 new cases reported over the course of the weekend.

The county added another 50 confirmed cases on Sept. 23.

Gresham School students will also be “doing virtual school until October 12” according to the district’s web site.

Newell Haffner, Gresham district superintendent, said “The decision was based on the whole picture of what’s going on in the Gresham schools and what was best for our students, staff and community.”

Haffner added the district’s administrative team and the district’s consulting doctor discussed the situation in the county and school district in making the decision. He added there were a couple of infections in the schools.

“Looking ahead, we see that our County data including Trajectory, Burden and Risk are in the High level.” Anderson wrote.

“According to the Board approved plan and the additional metrics identified by County health including the county’s ability to contact trace, medical facilities ability to test and our regional hospital bed capacity, and our own internal absentee rates of students and staff, we have made the very difficult decision to go 100 percent virtual starting Tuesday, September 29th,” she said.

“We anticipated having to move in and out of the virtual environment this year and have a plan in place and are ready to move,” Anderson said.

Anderson noted that Hillcrest families can pick up student meals for Thursday/Friday at the middle school or the high school.

Beginning Monday, the district will resume the summer pick up locations.

“Stay tuned to Facebook and or our website for additional details at the end of the week,” Anderson said.

She also said the district is working through its sports and activities programming and will communicate more by the end of the week.

Anderson encouraged parents to reach out to their building principal this week if students needs items from the building to be prepared for the next two weeks of virtual instruction.

Anderson also implored the community to do its part in fighting the coronavirus.

“Now, more than ever, we need to work together to take down this virus,” she said. “The sooner we take measures to contain this virus, the sooner we can resume school in person.”

Anderson asked that people stay home as much as possible, maintain physical distance and wear masks when they must go out, so the district will be able to bring students and staff back into the classrooms.

“It takes a village and we have one of the most incredible communities I’ve ever been a part of,” Anderson said. “We need all of you.”

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