MANITOWOC, Wis. (WFRV) – Due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in Manitowoc County, all Manitowoc Public School District schools will move to full distance learning starting on October 12.
According to a Friday release, students will attend school in person one or two days next week to meet with their teachers before moving to full distance learning. Working with county and state health officials, MPSD says they’ve created a learning model decision matrix to guide when the district can safely bring students and staff back into schools for in-person, face-to-face learning. The MPSD Board of Education approved the decision matrix at a meeting Friday.
“We knew that this might happen during the school year but we hoped to avoid it as long as we could,” MPSD Superintendent Mark Holzman said. “I want to thank everyone who has worked valiantly for the past five weeks and beyond to help the District offer in-person and distance, at-home instruction. We hope to return to in-person learning as soon as possible. We believe it is the best model for our students.”
Manitowoc Public Schools started the 2020-2021 school year on Sept. 1 with a blended learning model that allowed 4K-12 students to attend school in-person some days and learn from home other days. The number of in-person days varied for elementary, middle and high school students, based on the district’s ability to safely social distance in different school building layouts while cutting class sizes to seven to 13 students.
The school district says that while its safety mitigation plan worked well in its schools, the community spread of COVID-19 has significantly increased throughout the county and Northeast Wisconsin.
School officials say the decision to go virtual comes upon the recommendation of the Manitowoc County Health Department. According to the district, officials will monitor the Manitowoc County burden rate, or the total number of positive cases per 100,000 residents over a rolling two-week period.
“On September 1 Manitowoc County was averaging 100 positive cases per week. The past seven days have seen an excess of 275 positive cases. Manitowoc County’s burden rate is now at 554.”
To return to a blended learning level, the burden rate must be less than or equal to 150.
The transition to full distance learning at all MPSD schools will begin next week:
- 4K and Elementary student cohorts will attend school on Monday Oct. 5 and Tuesday Oct. 6, with no school on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as staff prepare for full distance learning on Monday Oct. 12.
- Middle School cohorts will attend school on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday Oct. 6, 7 or 8, with no school on Monday and Friday.
- High School cohorts will attend school on Monday Oct. 5 or Tuesday Oct. 6, with no school on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Superintendent Holzman thanked families for their continued support of their children’s education and encouraged everyone to do their part to help bring students back to school.
“We ALL have the power to help by taking personal responsibility to wear a mask, watch our distance and wash our hands,” Holzman said.
Many schools across Northeast Wisconsin are transitioning to virtual learning.
The Neenah Joint School District will transition to virtual learning until at least mid-October as the Fox Valley area continues to see a large community spread of coronavirus.
On Thursday, Green Bay Area Catholic Education announced its schools will transition to virtual learning on Tuesday, Oct. 6.
Notre Dame Academy shared a letter with families on Monday, saying the move is in response to “health and safety circumstances surrounding COVID-19 in the Green Bay area.” Virtual learning began on Wednesday, Sept. 30.
The Denmark School District announced its transition to virtual learning in response to new and increasing cases of COVID-19 Monday afternoon. According to a letter shared with families, there are 20 staff members out due to close contact quarantines or positive cases. Student absences have risen above 200.
On Friday, the Ashwaubenon School District announced it began remote learning on Thursday, Oct. 1, in response to COVID-19.
According to a letter shared with families, the decision was based on many factors, “including the significant community spread of COVID-19, local hospitals being burdened by critical numbers of hospitalizations, and the overall safety of our students, staff and community members.”
Across Northeast Wisconsin, Crivitz School District has also announced a transition to virtual learning due to staffing shortages created by mandatory quarantining for staff.
The Howard-Suamico School District began online learning on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Virtual learning will remain in place “until community health conditions improve.”
The Unified School District of De Pere also announced the transition “due to new cases of COVID-19” and “the resulting need to quarantine a large number of students and staff.” The decision was also based on local hospitals reporting that they have reached a critical stage with the number of hospitalizations they are experiencing.
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