School Board Reviews Graduation and Fall Planning

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Cameron Bren

MIDDLETON–The Middleton-Cross Plains School District Board of Education discussed the plans for students graduating and returning to school in the fall amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The final decision for graduation is expected on July 13 while the fall plan is to be determined on July 20.

While the final plan must be approved by Dane County and the health department, the district is planning for an in-person graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 at Breitenbach Stadium on July 25 at 7 p.m., or the same time the following day in case of rain.

Depending on the guidance from the county or the health department the district will hold either a full in-person ceremony with 500 plus graduates and up 2,600 attendees, split the ceremony into smaller groups and limit attendees, or have a drive by ceremony with accommodations made for those without vehicles. The event will be live-streamed and hosted on the district’s Youtube channel for those who cannot attend.

Superintendent Dana Monogue said the priority is for students to have the experience of walking across stage and receiving their diploma. Parents are second priority and advisors are third, she added. 

The district is currently sending out surveys to see how many families and students would attend the an in-person ceremony, Monogue said.

Regarding schools reopening in the fall Deputy Superintendent Cheri Cyra said the most important thing to note is that the district will not adopt a model and stick to it for the rest of the year. Under guidance released by the Department of Public Instruction districts (See story page 9) are advised to prepare for several scenarios and make adjustments throughout the year based on health data.

Cyra said that means schools should plan for change throughout the school year and be prepared to shift between, in-person, physically distanced and virtual learning. The best the district can do is prioritize goals in each scenario. 

In the case of in-person the district would likely implement a weekly schedule with four days of teacher guided instruction and one day of virtual learning with planned instruction in advance. The day of virtual learning would be Wednesday to allow for staff planning and facility sanitization. Full-time virtual learning will available to any student if requested.

Cyra said the district has assembled teams to do the planning work in each scenario focusing on instruction, professional development for staff and logistics managing people and cleaning procedures.

In the scenario of complete virtual learning Director of Technology Services Jim Blodgett need the DPI is working with Charter Communications to provide in-home service. He added that the district needs a better plan for device distribution. 

Board member Bob Hesselbein said he was in awe of the complexity of the work the district is doing and the decisions the board has to make. Hesselbein asked how much time families and students will have to adjust to the new protocols.

Cyra said it is hard to say without having a plan solidified which is expected on to happen on July 20. Cyra said she would not want to wait any longer determining a plan. 

Board member Anne Bauer asked if there has been any effort to communicate with staff to see if they plan to return. Assistant Superintendent of Operations Lori Ames said staff have not been surveyed yet but she is expecting that families will choose to continue virtual learning. She said for staff that would opt not to return to in-person learning could be paired with those students. 

Monogue said the district will continue providing weekly messages to staff and families with updates. She added the while the DPI provided only recommendations for districts, guidance expected from the health department may be more restrictive.

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