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Concerns over reopening local schools in the fall

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 10:55 PM CDT
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MIDDLETON, Wis. (WMTV) -Districts across the U.S. are scrabbling to figure out how to safely welcome students back to school in the fall. The issue is bringing up many viewpoints from local parents and teachers.

A recent survey of parents in the Middleton-Cross Plains School District found that the majority of parents want their kids in the classroom. Despite this, back to school season is going to look much different this year because of COVID-19.

Destiny Schaefer, Middleton mom of twin boys says for many parents of elementary students, school is their childcare. She says she wants her boys to go back to school in the fall but has some feelings of uncertainty. “I wish there was a solid plan and time is quickly running short,” Schaefer says she understands it’s a hard decision with lots of moving parts and worrying about teacher’s health and safety of the kids.

Right now Middleton school officials are reviewing options for the fall, including 100 percent virtual learning, full time face-to-face with one virtual day, and some hybrid learning options.

“If they do more virtual learning, they need to have more of a face to face teacher student situation.” Schaefer says her kids did not benefit much from virtual learning in the Spring. “A lot of Youtube videos and I didn’t like that,” she said.

“The virtual set up for the spring was sort of crisis mode we were thrown into an experiment nobody was prepared for,” said Andrew Hartman, a Middleton High School teacher. He says many teachers have concerns about going back to school and he’s hoping for the best outcome for his students.

Hartman says while a valuable resource, virtual learning just doesn’t compare to face-to-face and many students of color don’t have equal access which is a concern for him. “We want to get the ship back to where it needs to be and have students in the classroom to bridge those gaps and barriers,” he said.

He says he’s concerned about communities of color who are already greatly impacted by COVID-19. “Going back to face-to-face is going to put those families more at risk...it is a lose lose situation, and it’s a struggle.” He says despite the concerns they are trying to do what is right for the students and the community.

NBC15 checked in on other area school districts and Monday both Waunakee and Sun Prairie discussed possibilities for reopening in the fall.

Jenn Savagian, a Sun Prairie parent says she is on the fence about her kids going back to school. As a stay-at-home mom she has some flexibility but worries about how this is all impacting her kids. “I think it would be extremely difficult to keep young children safe at school,” she says.

She also says she knows her kids need the social interaction back in their routine.

“They miss their friends, they miss having contact with teachers ,and the quality of education in person is a lot better than i’m able to provide for them at home online,” said Savagian.

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