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August 4, 2020

7/15/2020 8:30:00 AM
Task force for relaunch will go to Dodgeville school board next

Dodgeville School District stakeholders should be aware that the task force working on how the school year for 2020-21 will look is doing its job.
The task force challenged with the back to school launch has been meeting extensively since its creation and has been readying a presentation for the Dodgeville School Board when it meets next Monday. This past Monday the board's curricular/co-curricular committee received a preview of coming attractions.
With new District Administrator Paul Weber leading the discussion, several phases of the relaunch were presented and questioned by the committee. The school year will apparently be one of three models depending on what the full board decides and what the Iowa County Health Department feels is safe at the time. Iowa County has been seeing a rapid rise in cases the past couple weeks.
The relaunch could be one of three phases, the committee learned. The phases would be total face to face, a hybrid model of face to face and virtual or complete virtual. There will be safety measures implemented including PPE, social distancing and class size limits.
No matter which version of a relaunch is put forward there will be differences. For instance there will be no water stations available and all water must be brought in. Also, food service will take longer as smaller shifts will be implemented and all food must be served instead of put out buffet style. Students may also find themselves eating in different areas to accommodate size requirements and classrooms may also be used to eat lunch.
Sanitation will also be frequent and ongoing. It was noted that the school could smell like the wrestling room as that is the type of sanitizer that will be used.
As there is no playbook for dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic, there will be the need for flexibility when it comes to staff, students and parents. There will be a home base area on the school district web page that will be constantly updated by the communications director with information also provided on Facebook, IM and The Dodgeville Chronicle.
Getting kids to school if there is face to face or hybrid is being studied. Lamars Bus Service is heavily involved in sanitizing and will be following guidelines provided by the Department of Transportation. There will also be limits to the number of riders.
Many parents, close to 35%, rely on school provided transportation and several more must have their children transported either to or from school. Studying transportation needs will be a key piece to the continuing study and part of surveys.
Athletics, both practices and games, will also undoubtedly have a different look. Athletic Director Joey Martin provided a return to the weight room and gymnasiums plan that started July 1. He said it is working now and will be monitored as more activity starts to take place in the gym for volleyball and basketball.
Martin also said he is studying the back to competition plan put out by the WIAA.
There will be new terminology moving forward with such terms as "social distancing" and "acceptable risk" always under consideration.
"There is always going to be risk involved," said Director of Student Services Robert Smudee.
Health of students and staff will be closely monitored and rights and responsibilities will be at the forefront. There will also be the need for substitute teachers with a full time substitute for each building a possibility.
Meeting the needs of special needs students will receive priority as will routes throughout the school buildings for passing classes. Passing times will no doubt be controlled and staggered.
While it will be the school board making the final decision as to what the relaunch will look like, it will ultimately be up to the stakeholders to provide their input. The choices will be in person face to face, a combination of face to face and virtual or virtual.
Weber, who took over as District Administrator July 1, feels the task force has done its job to the fullest.
"There will be a good plan presented to the board Monday night," he said. "The task force was presented a monumental task and has provided a massive amount of information. It will be presented to the board and we hope it will be acceptable to the community."
During a question and answer session that followed the presentation curricular/co-curricular committee chairperson Mike Knoedler asked if it is realistic to promote face to face instruction?
"There is always risk," Smudee replied. "There are risks at school and at home. Either the risk is accepted with the possibility of a rise in cases shutting the school down or it is not. You just have to pick a horse and run with it."
Knoedler agreed.
"We have to make a decision as a school board as to what is best."
Weber added that no matter what the decision...
"We all need to look out for one another."

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