WBSD approves plan to reopen for 2020-21

Three plans offered to deal with COVID-19
Miriam Nelson
News Editor

The Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District met Sunday and approved plans to reopen the schools this fall for the 2020-2021 school term.

Superintendent Garrett Rogowski and Director of Student Services Megan Marcks explained the three-part plan put together by administrators. The first section of the plan consisted of the expectations recommended in order for students and teachers to return to the classrooms. The second listed expectations for student absences and instructions from staff when dealing with COVID-19 related absences. The third was a plan to put into place in the event that the school district faces a mandatory shut-down like what happened mid-March of this year.

Each section was divided into two columns of expectations of the students and parents or caregivers and the expectations of the staff which included teachers, assistants, custodians, drivers, cafeteria workers and administrative members.

The section further broke down the information into several scenarios, such as in classrooms; hallways, lockers and common areas; drop off, pickup; transportation; meetings and conferences; office and health office; restrooms; lunches and cafeterias; and recess. In the classrooms and the lunches and cafeterias scenarios the plan was further divided by age groups.

“Our intention is to have the kids back in school,” said Rogowski.

Rogowski said that the plan is fluid and still open to suggestions. The plan takes into considerations guidelines and restrictions set by the state Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Health Services and is subject to any Shawano County or state mandates, he said.

“It isn’t etched in stone,” said Rogowski of the proposed plan. “It’s based on what we know from DPI and DHS, what is and isn’t allowed, and ultimately what our vision is for the 2020-2021 school year.”

Parents/Caregivers will be asked to conduct wellness checks including temperature readings and to keep children home if they have a temperature over 100.4 degrees and any other signs of illness. Students are encouraged to wear a mask or a face shield when entering, exiting or moving about a room or when dealing directly with staff. They are asked to clean or replace the masks as needed. If the student doesn’t have a mask, the school will provide one.

According to Rogowski, the school district can’t legally make wearing masks mandatory. Where social distancing is possible, wearing a mask is not required, but staff will encourage students to wear them when in close contact.

District Nurse Rebecca Wendel has been in daily contact with other district nurses as well as with the county and state health departments and explained to the board that they should be prepared for constant changes. She noted that she will be working with office staff regarding procedures for determining if a student is presenting COVID-19 symptoms in the event that she is not at the school. Wendel splits her time between all three school buildings.

If the student is in quarantine or isolation the plan offers a way for students to keep up with their studies with instructions from their teachers.

The third section of the plan provides for a shift to remote learning if state or local regulations shut down in-class instruction. The plan will offer daily online learning with a regular school schedule and a grading system.

The board approved the plan with the understanding that it will be updated as needed.

The plan will be made available to all parents and district residents to view on the district website, Facebook page or they can arrange to pick up a hard copy at the district office in the high school building, 400 W. Grand Ave., Wittenberg. Because staffing during the summer is staggered during the pandemic it is recommended to call 715-253-2211 before coming to the school.