Waupaca schools reopen
Mix of remote, in-person learning under covid guidelines
By Robert Cloud
Students returning to school in Waupaca this week are experiencing a new set of guidelines for learning.
All of them will be required to wear masks while at school.
“Research shows universal mask wearing, even homemade masks, reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Transmission can happen even when one is physically distant from others,” Superintendent Ron Saari told parents in an Aug. 18 communication.
No parents or visitors will be allowed into the buildings.
Each of the schools had a “soft opening,” with half of the in-person students going on Tuesday and the other half on Thursday.
On Wednesday, all remote-learning students were able to come in and pick up their materials.
Students did not stay but met their teacher, collected learning materials and then returned home.
The soft opening allowed teachers to practice safety protocols and new routines with smaller groups of students.
It also allows the district to observe how the transportation and parking will work out and make adjustments at each of the buildings.
“There is no such thing as ‘zero risk’ in anything we do,” Saari noted. “There will be some risk to students, teachers, staff and families. As such, it is important to reduce these risks to the extent possible.”
All students, 4K through grade 12, have the option to learn remotely or in the classroom.
Wednesdays will be remote learning for all students.
Daily health checklist
Families are expected to answer four questions on a COVID-19 checklist every morning.
The first question asks if a student has any COVID-19 symptoms, such as coughing, sore throat, runny nose, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, head aches, muscle aches or fatigue.
The second question asks about close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is likely to test positive.
The third question asks if anyone in the student’s household is waiting for COVID-19 test results.
The fourth question asks if the student has tested positive within the last 10 says.
If the student answers “yes” to any of those questions, the student should not go to school.
Parents must report their child’s symptoms to the school’s attendance line.
Students who self-isolate from the classroom will have the opportunity to learn remotely.
All the 4K through sixth-grade students will soon be back in the classroom, while the middle and high school students have alternating A/B schedules of in-person and remote learning.
Families with 4K through sixth-grade students have the option of remote learning if they do not feel safe about their children returning to the buildings.
“The risks to students from school closures, including ‘virtual dropouts’ lack of food security, safety, and adverse impacts on social, physical and mental health, must be weighed against risks from being back in school,” Saari told parents in August.
Saari noted the scientific evidence about COVID-19 indicates young children are less likely to get infected than adults, less likely to suffer severe effects if infected and less likely to transmit to others.
Saari provided the Waupaca County Post with preliminary enrollment numbers.
At the high school, 464 students are enrolled for in-person instruction and 137 students are enrolled for remote learning.
Preliminary enrollment numbers show that 455 middle school students are learning in-person and 129 are remote learners.
At Waupaca Learning Center, 533 students are in-person and 124 are remote
At the Chain Exploration Center, 90 are in-person and 41 are remote.
Among children in Waupaca’s 4K program, 101 are in-person and 18 are remote.
Waupaca’s goal is to bring all students back into the classroom. However, the risk level in Waupaca County remains too high to allow all students back into the schools at the same time.
Each of the buildings has slight differences in scheduling and protocols.
Students are divided into two groups: A Schedule and B Schedule.
A Schedule students are in the classrooms on Mondays and Thursdays and learning remotely on Tuesdays and Fridays.
B Schedule students are in the classrooms on Tuesdays and Fridays, while learning remotely on Mondays and Thursdays.
On Wednesdays, all students learn virtually.
By dividing the students into two groups, staff can more easily maintain social distancing and avoid crowded hallways and other common spaces.
Teachers will prepare lessons for each day and students can participate in the lessons either via live remote or on-demand.
Students will have learning targets for each day, whether they are learning at home or in the classroom.
Teachers will monitor student progress through a learning management system called Schoology.
Students will be required to walk 6-feet apart on the right side of the hallways and use stairways that are specifically designated “Up Only” or “Down Only.”
Each class will have a seating chart that is required for contact tracing in the event a student tests positive for COVID-19.
Other guidelines include seating for lunch, locker spacing and frequent hand sanitizing.
Fifth- and sixth-grade students will have in-person learning every day except Wednesdays.
Seventh and eighth graders will have an A/B schedule similar to the high school’s schedule.
Wednesdays will be remote learning for all students.
Each of the four middle school grades will have its own door to help reduce the number of students congregating at the entrance.
Each grade will have its own designated entrance.
When doors open at 7:15 a.m., students will be directed to the gym or commons area where they must sit a safe distance apart.
At 7:30 a.m., the students will be directed immediately to their classrooms.
Each of the grades have specific dismissal times between 2:50 p.m. and 3:05 p.m.
Parents with children in multiple grades will need to park in the parking lot in order to avoid congestion at the drop-off lane.
Students whose parents drop them off will use the main entrance of the Chain Exploration Center, while students who ride the buses will use the side entrance.
Students will not be allowed to enter the building prior to 7:30 a.m. because social distancing is not possible in the designated waiting areas.
Students will go to their classrooms immediately after entering the building.
Multi-age group learning and a focus on music and the arts have been among the priorities of the Chain Exploration Center.
Some of the classes will be taught in-person, while others will be taught remotely.
For example, teachers may be in one classroom while broadcasting the lesson into the students’ classroom.
This will be a live feed where students can interact with the teacher while maintaining the physical distancing guidelines.