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School officials react to DPI guidelines on returning to classrooms

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DPI Guidelines 1 06-22-2020

Eau Claire (WQOW) - The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is offering new guidance on how to get students back into classrooms this fall.

Eau Claire students are expected to start school on September 1st, but there's still the big question of how.

For the last two and half months, students learned from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To safely return to school in the fall, the state DPI outlined several possible scenarios in an 87-page document called "Education Forward."

"There's so many different options. I think many of them are doable. I think the hardest one to do would be to have everybody come in face-to-face. Even with changes, if we're going to have to maintain social distancing, it's going to be very hard to have a normal full classroom," said Dr. Ron Walsh, interim superintendent of the School District of Altoona.

One option includes kids going to school four days a week with the fifth day for deep-cleaning the schools.

Other options include a two-day rotation where students report to school two days a week and learn virtually the other days, or an A/B rotation where half of the student population attends in-person classes for four days a week while the other half learns virtually and the groups alternate weekly.

"I think it's a very thorough look at what the possibilities might look like in a very unpredictable future," said Dr. Mary Ann Hardebeck, superintendent of the Eau Claire Area School District.

Both the Eau Claire and Altoona School Districts are still considering how each possibility would impact everyone inside and outside the classroom.

"If some of the options mean students stay home doing things virtually, that's going to be a strong impact on families, so we want to know what parents in the community think of these things as well," said Dr. Walsh.

"When they're out of school, are they learning? Do we have the equipment that they need? Do we have the instruction planned? There's going to be a lot of planning that goes into this," said Dr. Hardebeck.

Dr. Hardebeck went on to say their task force, made up of more than 70 people, is combing through the guidelines and hopes to bring forward a recommendation to the Eau Claire School Board meeting on July 20.

News 18 also spoke with officials from the Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District. They feel the guidelines are helpful, but they are still planning for several scenarios, ranging from returning to school with protective gear to going completely virtual in case the number of COVID cases spikes in their area.

Katrina Lim

Katrina Lim joined the News 18 team in August 2019 as a multimedia journalist. She was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey but has lived in all time zones of the contiguous U.S.A.

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