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August 4, 2020

7/28/2020 3:01:00 PM
DSD relaunch plan could reshape the future of ed delivery

The administrative team and staff members on the Dodgeville School District Relaunch Taskforce have been busy making lemonade and if Monday's school board meeting is any indication they have squeezed out the last drop.
The school board heard a presentation by new District Administrator Paul Weber who directed much of the presentation to his staff. When the presentation was over, Weber and staff fielded questions. The meeting was held over ZOOM and featured up to 110 participants.
The school board eventually accepted the relaunch plan, calling it a great first step in creating a learning environment for whatever the COVID-19 pandemic continues to throw at districts throughout the nation. Weber said that flexibility from here on in is very important for the success of delivering education.
The Taskforce spent considerable time after last spring's total shutdown of face to face teaching. They took various topics and worked them "backwards and forwards along with inside and out."
The areas they dissected were communications, human resources, special education, social emotional, health and safety, transportation, food service, co-curricular and learning and technology. Priorities receiving the most focus are:
-maintaining the health and safety of students and staff
-providing a pathway for students to return to school
-giving options to parents
In a community survey where stakeholders were asked their preferences the Taskforce learned that 67% want their child back in school, 60% feel social distancing is important and 13.5% want to keep their child at home. Another 20% were neutral on the topic.
Further study found that for the elementary student, in-person instruction is highly desired. There was a larger number of middle school students who did not engage well in virtual learning and staff is worried about their own health and safety so PPE and social distancing is important.
With the goal of educating students safely and protecting staff at the helm, the Taskforce presented the following structure:
-ELP-3rd grade will receive instruction at Dodgeville Elementary School
-4th-6th grade will be located at the Dodgeville Middle School for their classwork.
-7th-9th grades will be housed at Dodgeville High School for their face to face learning.
Under the plan for ELP-9th graders will come to school each day with grade levels divided to accommodate physical distancing.
Grades 10th-12th will receive instruction through a blended format using asynchronous, synchronous and in-person learning. According to the relaunch document:
"Grades 10-12 will receive their education both via virtual format, including asynchronous (on their own time), and synchronous (real time) and in person. The in-person instruction could come in the form of lab work, discussion sessions, learning groups and could be offered on a less frequent basis and at various times throughout the day. The number of times a class meets in person would depend on the curriculum and the teacher. A 10-12 schedule could look similar to a post-high school schedule where students will attend both in-person and via a virtual environment. Classes may meet between two and five times per week with students expected to do work on their own."
A third option offered to parents is a choice to keep their children at home. With this choice the district will provide an alternative option that combines blended synchronous and asynchronous learning. A virtual option for parents to teach their own children can also be requested.
Two areas that also may look different are transportation and food service.
Transportation will be available as usual with the possibility of extra time needed for sanitizing. It also may be more costly to the district.
Food service will be available as usual with ELP-9th taking place at school and 10th-12th either at school or by delivery. It is unknown if students will be assigned areas where they can eat their meal or if they will receive them in their classrooms.
With the flexible, personalized learning for grades 10-12 it may set up what could happen post-COVID.
"We feel this is an innovative approach and could be continued into the future if it is found to be successful," Weber said. "The curriculum is both guaranteed and viable."
While parents will still be making their decisions as how they want to proceed into August, it is felt the three building option will work very well for social distancing. As further data is received from parents of students, staffing will be decided and whatever adjustments are needed can be made.
As for the health aspect, it will be particularily important for the students and staff to be monitored consistently. Families will be prepared for potential closure and must be able to respond to health issues concerning their children.
"We want to ensure safety for learners and staff first and foremost," Weber said.
As for communicating as the school relaunch continues, families should receive an email with a link to the plan this week. This week (July 17) families will receive a survey link for relaunch opinions. Later there will be a link sent that will allow questions or concerns to go to the administration with the relaunch plan survey closing July 22.
Plans call for a ZOOM meeting with administration on July 23 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. to answer questions and take comments. A recording of that meeting will be available on the DSD website July 24.
Areas that are unclear presently is the return to fall sports and other extra curricular activities. During the meeting is was noted that districts are having to deal with the relaunch pretty much on their own as the WIAA and DPI are offering basic guidelines but no concrete orders.
"With everything we must remember it is important to be flexible," Weber emphasized.
The administrative team has also addressed sanitizing. It is felt that there is enough time built into the day and evening where sanitizing needs will be met. CDC guidelines will be followed at all times and the district is purchasing foggers and chemicals.
Many questions center around requiring facemasks for students will be answered prior to the start of school. There will also be a list compiled of staff and students who are medically fragile.
District curriculum director Jacque Goetzke told the board to those listening she feels the district is in a good place right now.
"I would like to think we are ahead of the game," she said, adding that this is an evolving plan.
Board member Mike Knoedler noted that it is risky for all decisions to be made locally.
"No one above us is doing any of this for us," he said.
I there is any question of how successful the plan will be DHS Principal Ryan Bohnsack said the following.
"Maintaining is over. We are now back into educating."
The board approved moving forward with the plan unanimously.
"There will be more to come," Weber said. "Questions will continue but I feel we have an opportunity to reinvent education in Dodgeville."
"As much as COVID has caused us to break with past tradition, it also allows us to make changes we would not have before."
Under the "more to come" aspect of the plan there will be items addressed such as mask protocol, traffic patterns, what will classrooms look like, etc.
"It will be trial and error and we realized adjustments will have to be made," said Weber. "We will be building on the plan as we go. What we know for sure is the kids will be back and everything possible is being done to keep them safe."
The board also heard a plan that is a collaboration of CESA #3 schools concerning school sports. Districts are asked to support a plan that will go the WIAA that would move fall sports to spring, winter sports to a December start date with competition starting in January, then moving spring sports to the summer.
The board also filled a special education vacancy by offering a contract to Jason Holzmer and a middle school history position to Ainslee Anderson, a former school board member.

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