Monroe schools move to all-virtual learning until Thanksgiving

Some schools in the district have switched back and forth between online learning and a hybrid model, but this is the first time all schools have made the switch.
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 7:18 PM CST
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MONROE, Wis. (WMTV) - With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing across Wisconsin, the School District of Monroe is taking action, shifting all district schools online.

On Tuesday, the district’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 15 positive COVID-19 cases and 80 students and staff in quarantine.

“You really have to be concerned, not only about the safety of students in school, students and staff in school, but you also have to be concerned about the safety just in the community,” said Superintendent Rick Waski.

Parent Theresa Robertson has two children in a Monroe elementary school. She said the change is unfortunate—both her boys, especially her oldest, do better in person.

“He comes home really excited with school, it seems like he was really engaged with the day,” Robertson described.

When the school year started, students alternated weekly between in-person and virtual learning. For Robertson, even that much online learning was tough.

“It’s kind of overwhelming at times especially since I have a newborn at home,” Robertson explained.

Robertson said she is worried about the impact of only virtual learning on her kids' mental health.

“They’re young brothers so they’re going to bicker with each other anyway, but it’s definitely escalated the weeks that they’re home,” she said.

However, Robertson admits the district made the right decision.

“I know I want my kids in school but I also know I want my kids to be safe,” she said, adding, “I don’t think the school had any other option.”

The decision on whether to return to hybrid after Thanksgiving will be made the week of the holiday, but Waski warns this is probably not the last change.

“Until these numbers start coming down...we’re going to have to be prepared for primarily virtual instruction,” he said.

The switch to virtual in Monroe comes the same week the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) called for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to issue statewide requirements for schools to follow when it comes to deciding between in-person or virtual learning. Ron Martin, president of WEAC said leaving decision up to local school districts leads to inconsistent safety precautions.

“Statewide gating criteria will provide and allow educators to continue to go the extra mile so students thrive under safe and consistent conditions. We want nothing more than to be with our students in person and consistently applied gating criteria will get us there faster,” Martin said.

Currently, each school district must make plans individually. The Department of Public Instruction recommends each district work with their local public health department to determine the safest option.

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