July 17, 2020
For Immediate Release
Sheboygan Falls School District Plans
Responsible Return to School
As it plans for opening school during the coronavirus pandemic, the School District of Sheboygan Falls hosted two community listening sessions as part of the district’s Responsible Return to School planning process on Wednesday, July 15. In her first public presentation as the new Sheboygan Falls superintendent, Annalee Bennin spoke from the stage in the Middle School gymnasium to an audience that was physically distanced and mostly wearing masks. Simultaneously, the meeting was presented on Facebook Live.
Both sessions combined were attended by about 50 people in person, approximately 25 people per session, and approximately 200 people viewing Bennin’s presentation live via Facebook.
Among the information she shared was that the Sheboygan Falls School District is considering all students to return to school this fall for in-person instruction five days a week. She said that a task force is reviewing the feedback, other local district’s plans,and what accommodations Sheboygan Falls needs to reopen safely. She also said the reopening plan will have a virtual component to accommodate parents and students who are not ready for in-person instruction, for medical or other reasons.
She asked that parents and staff understand that this situation may be fluid for weeks and months ahead and the district will need to respond quickly to changes in the pandemic.
“We do our best work with our students in front of us. We want to try to get our students in front of us,” Bennin said. “We know that the reality is that not everyone is there yet. Our question is how do you balance that and make sure we are meeting everyone’s social-emotional and academic needs,” she said.
In early July, the district distributed an online survey of parents and staff that included questions about returning to school. The results of the survey and of the community listening sessions are being released to a district task force that began its work on the plan July 16.
The task force includes parents, staff, community members, and representatives from agencies that the district works with regularly such as the transportation company and the Boys and Girls Club. Guiding the group’s considerations will be recommendations from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the Centers for Disease Control and the Sheboygan County Health Department, decisions by other area districts, and best practices from professional organizations. The task force will have a variety of sub groups including one for each building.
Among the specific items to be determined will be protocols for face coverings and physical distancing, how elective courses like music and technical education are to be taught, entry, exit, hallway and lunch procedures, and what types of personal protective equipment are needed for various instructional scenarios. The task force will study differences by grade level and buildings and will also map out procedures to follow when a student or staff member tests positive for Covid or has been exposed to Covid.
The task force builds on the ongoing work of various district departments including maintenance, food service, instructional technology, curriculum and administration as well as the school nurses and legal counsel that have already begun their reopening plans.