SASD works to build a plan for fall

Several area school districts are working hard to figure out what school will look like come fall. According to Sparta Superintendent Dr. Amy Van Deuren, the best guidance districts currently have is the Coulee Region COVID Compass. 
“We have four possible status levels, severe, high, moderate and low,” she explained. “The severe puts us back to where we were in March and based on what we’re hearing for the fall, things are going to be moving with the definitions on this dashboard also.”
Severe and high status levels might allow at least some form of in person learning with targeted closures when necessary versus a blanket closure for several months on end. 
“Having this as our guideline for the summer, really points us towards the fall and gives us a starting point where we can adjust,” Van Deuren said.
When the compass is in severe status, things would be closed. When the compass reads a high status, the district would start opening up buildings while practicing social distancing and thinking about letting athletic groups begin limited drill work. 
The compass would need to get down to moderate status to have something more robust and it won’t be until low status that the district would resume normal routines. 
“I think for the summer this gives us an idea of where we need to be to keep our buildings and our staff and our students as safe and healthy as possible, which will set us up with the best possible start for fall,” Van Deuren said. “I do think if we end up in a situation where we’ll need to have a large-scale closure for a length of time, I think that length of time is likely to be weeks instead of months.” 
For the summer, SASD will continue with virtual learning for year-round students and summer school from June 15 to July 24. The meal service will continue until at least July 30 and board meetings will continue being held virtually at least through the month of July.
When the compass status moves down to high, Van Deuren said athletic directors can begin working on preparations for the return of athletes. 
“There has been much discussion about the WIAA’s advice and the contradictions with some of the school planning pieces,” she added. “It’s been really tough to be in the middle of that piece of it.”
Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released Education Forward, which is a guidance document for Wisconsin districts and school administrators to use as they plan for a safe and efficient return to school for the 2020-2021 school year.
“We are absolutely on the right track with what we’ve been talking about so far with building staff capacity and student capacity for learning in different ways,” Van Deuren said. 
As of right now, the district is looking at three plans for when school resumes in the fall, which include in person learning, remote learning and blended learning.
Staff and administrators still need to refine a scheduling plan as well as working out transportation for students and after school childcare for families.
“For fall, we know school is going to look different with different plans for different status levels,” Van Deuren said. “We do need to offer families choice because even if we do have school in person, we know there are going to be families that aren’t going to be comfortable doing that.” 
The district recently sent out a survey to families to get a final read on how they’re feeling about the different learning options for the fall. 
“We need to get a feel as to how we can serve the majority of our families the best as we move forward,” Van Deuren said. “July is going to be a busy month because we have to build a plan we can mend and shape and we have to get those foundational pieces right in order to have a great plan for the fall.”

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