The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on Monday issued Education Forward, a guidance document for Wisconsin district and school leaders to use as they plan for a safe, efficient, and equitable return to school for the 2020-21 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
State School Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor said, “Education Forward is meant to provide information for educators and school officials as they make decisions regarding their school operations to keep all students and staff safe while learning.”
DPI specialists developed Education Forward in close collaboration with officials from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and education stakeholders throughout the state. The primary consideration of all involved was the health and safety of students and staff.
Education Forward provides health information, resources, and possible action steps aligned to not only close out the current school year, but also prepare for and implement provisions in the next school year. The document does not constitute a requirement for any district or school. Instead, the plan says the information should be used as a starting point to be modified in collaboration with all stakeholders.
The plan lays out various scheduling scenarios to maintain physical distancing, such as a four-day week – allowing for one day of deep cleaning. There is also a plan for a two-day rotation, under which all students report to a school, outdoor learning spaces or community-based organizations two full days a week for starters. Another plan spells out what is called an A/B weekly rotation, in which half the student population reports for classes four days a week, while the other half participates in virtual learning at home.
The two student groups would then alternate between in-person and virtual learning on a weekly basis. The 87-page document also lays out a phased approach, in which elementary students start back to school first, attending four full days a week, aimed primarily at reducing the student-teacher ratio. Secondary students engage in virtual learning to start out the year.
The document also includes specific considerations for special education students, English language-learning students, gifted and talented students, school libraries, and out-of-school programs.
Education Forward can be found in its entirety on the Department of Public Instruction website at www.dpi.wi.gov.