MONROE — The School District of Monroe Board of Education continued to iron out details of approved plans to return to school in the fall at its meeting July 27. More than 60 people tuned into the meeting held via Zoom teleconference.
During the meeting, District Administrator Rick Waski proposed to the board that despite the category the county fell into when school starts regarding COVID-19 cases, he hopes to start students in the Plan B hybrid model with students at half capacity on alternating weeks for four weeks to “figure things out” as well as let families plan.
The board agreed to the proposal, meaning students will be in Plan B regardless of local numbers until at least Sept. 28.
Green County currently falls into the “low” category, according to the state’s classification system that breaks down counties by activity level based on number of cases.
“I’d like to inform the community we’ll start for a period of time in Plan B unless numbers radically change,” Waski said.
He said it would be easier to respond to data at half capacity and would then provide a two-week running update for parents with a created online dashboard. For example, in week three, the school would make a choice to plan for the fifth week.
“If we start in the middle it allows us to pivot more easily,” Waski said. “I intend to be responsive but giving some certainty … is the right way to go.”
He said it would be easier for the school to move from Plan B than others, and although Green County numbers are currently low, he said a more accurate representation will likely come when students are back in school.
“I want to give families some certainty so we’re not changing every other week for the first few weeks of school,” Waski said. “Never in the history of our district have we run a hybrid model. I’m recommending picking a period of time.”
Most board members seemed supportive of the recommendation, including Mary Berger.
“Starting in Plan B gives us a chance to practice that model,” Berger said, noting that implementing and practicing skills would be important for staff and students.
In the previously approved plan, Monroe would currently fall into Plan A, which is full capacity with safety guidelines in place.
The district administrator would have the authority to move to Plan B based on active cases among students, staff and public health trends in the community. Waski could also move students to Plan C, learning entirely online, based on high levels of COVID-19 or a lack of ability to staff school buildings since those exposed to anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus will be required to quarantine for 14 days.
Feedback after last week’s meeting also prompted the board to look further into details that came along with the approved plan.
“I do think there are still a wide variety of opinions people have on reopening,” Waski said, noting that he understands the concerns. “Many are unwavering.”
He said he received more than 20 emails and a handful of phone calls after last week’s meeting where the board unanimously approved the plan for students. Much of the feedback was supportive.
Board members also expressed supportive feedback as well as more questions and concerns brought forth.
Temperature checks was one of the detailed items the board will look into. In the approved plan temperature checks were required in Plan B, but not in Plan A. The board asked that administrators look further into the feasibility of providing temperature checks even if the school was in Plan A, meaning cases were low in Green County.
Currently, the school’s plan will be to take temperatures of its students inside classrooms. Business Administrator Ron Olson said the Department of Public Instruction sent nine thermometers, but more have been ordered.
Parents have until Aug. 7 to opt into Plan H, which would be virtual learning.