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December 4, 2020

11/3/2020 10:14:00 AM
Barneveld schools will be four in-person, one virtual November 1

When Joe Price accepted the position of District Administrator for the Barneveld School District, no one had an idea that Wisconsin would be one of the heaviest states for the COVID-19 pandemic by the time his first school year here would start.
But since that is the way it is, Price had to hit the ground running and do everything possible to get the district in shape for its 2020-21 session. The hope was to have the district able to deliver face to face instruction.
While the plan was solid the pandemic was too much to overcome when it came to the desired results of smooth sailing.
For Barneveld and most of the other districts throughout the state it has been anything but.
What has happened from the time that school has started throughout the state to now is a constant switch from face to face to blended to virtual and back again. Perhaps the only students who have had constant learning are those who chose virtual from the start.
One thing Price, the Barneveld School Board, the community and the students have learned is what has been taking place is hard on everyone, especially the staff. In many area districts, teachers are preparing for both face to face or blended along with serving those who chose completely virtual. In a word, it has been HARD.
To Price's credit he created a survey that went to students, staff and the community. He shared the results with the school board last Wednesday when they were scheduled to review the learning process and make changes as needed.
There were 117 students who responded to the survey. What the board learned was:
-75% attended school in person when it was open
-11% have switched sometimes from learning to virtual and back again
-another 11% have been all-virtual from the start.
-when asked for two or three words to describe how they feel about school the largest were "stressful" "confusing" "overwhelmed" "different" and "good."
-understanding lessons at school received a "strongly agree" and "moderately agree"
-able to work in small groups at school was close between "strongly agree" and "moderately agree"
-feeling safe at school was about the same with "strongly agree and "moderately agree"
-virtual students moderately agreed they could understand the lessons as delivered
-virtual students moderately agreed they are able to get one on one feedback from their teachers virtually though there was a certain amount of moderately disagree entered
-virtual students moderately and strongly agreed they are able to work
-virtual students were somewhat split on being able to have social interaction virtually
There were 45 members of the staff at Barneveld who responded to the survey.
When it came to safety the staff responding said they feel very unsafe with the current COVID numbers and are not feeling very safe with extra curricular and community events taking place in the building. They feel moderately unsafe with student behavior/adherence to safety rules.
-40% of the respondents feel there are sufficient PPE for staff
-33% feel there are sufficient safety protocols in place at the school
The staff gave a long list of additional safety protocols they would like to see added for staff and students. Among the concerns were:
- how to deal with testing and symptoms as to how long household and siblings should remain out of school
-more consistent enforcement of protocols
-deep clean on a day designated for asynchronous learning
-larger spaces for cohort lunches (gym/commons/tent outside)
-requiring a full 14 day quarantine after close contact or a positive test as opposed to shortening the time with a negative test result
-reduce the number of students in the building to allow them to be more spread out
-reassess the use of classrooms based on room size and in-person cohort count
-more sanitizing among elementary students and maintaining social distance
-a modified school day
Staff was also asked to inform the board about personal situations related to the pandemic. Among the answers were concerns about extreme fatigue, concerns about safety needs being overridden by a desire to keep school open, personal underlying conditions, age, health of family members, mental health of students, pre-existing conditions, COVID being brought to school, etc.
There were 178 responses from the community. Words that stood out from how they would describe the school year are "challenging" "different" "stressful" "worried" "sad" "good" and "thankful" to name a few.
Community members feel:
-students are receiving a quality in-person education at the school
-students feel safe coming to school
-if changes are made community members favored four days a week and one virtual moreso than five days a week with a shortened day (8:30 to 1 p.m.)
-nearly 60% favor Friday as the one virtual day if needed
-nearly 30% favor Wednesday
-when asked if they favored four days in-person with one day virtual or all virtual five day instruction the result was highly preferable for the four and one scenario.
When it came time for the board to discuss the findings and have their questions answered it became apparent that there is an incredible need to modify the schedule to provide for quality education and prevent burnout. Passed was a motion to go to a four day in-person schedule with one day virtual. The day picked for virtual was Wednesday. The official start date for the new schedule is November 1 to give parents time to make arrangements for daycare.
The board will meet in a month to assess the results and see if further adjustments are necessary.

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