This fall, school districts throughout Douglas County prepared flexible learning plans that would allow them to react quickly to changes in pandemic conditions during the school year. Now, they're putting those plans into action.
The Superior School District was the first to move from its hybrid learning plan to fully online classes Nov. 9. With the Thanksgiving holiday rapidly approaching, more followed this week.
All students in the Maple School District will transition to fully online learning Monday, Nov. 16. School board members made the decision during a special board meeting at 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12. The soonest students would return to in-person classes would be Dec. 14, according to District Administrator Sara Croney.
Croney said the move was necessary due to staff and student absenteeism, the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Douglas County and the upcoming holidays. The tipping point came Thursday when they ran into a situation where they just couldn't get enough staff.
"When we need to keep students safe and staff safe, we need to be not only reactive, but proactive," Croney said. "I feel this plan the board approved is both. It's reactive for what the Douglas County, Bayfield County health numbers are, but also the fact that we know families are going to get together, we know that they're going to go deer hunting, we know they're probably going shopping on Black Friday."
- RELATED: Maple students will transition to virtual classes
- REALTED: Superior students will transition to virtual learning due to COVID-19 spike
The plan factors in a two-week period following the holidays before students rejoin each other in person. Classes will not take place the week of Nov. 23, which had already been designated as a break week.
Tiger football playoffs and winter sports practices will continue; mobile meal service will be provided for families at five different sites. Teachers have criteria for teaching from home.
"We did talk about compensation for support staff. The big thing is we're going to keep people busy," Croney said.
School was canceled for students in the Solon Springs School District Friday, Nov. 13. However, teachers reported to work to prepare for a move to all-online learning Monday, Nov. 16.
“Although our actual positive test numbers have been small, we are seeing more activity in our school community area,” said District Administrator Frank Helquist. “Because next week is the last week before Thanksgiving Break, the uptick we are seeing and the concerns that staff have, we will be moving to virtual for next week.”
Students will be able to pick up materials and grade level directions between noon and 6 p.m. Monday at the school, Principal Holly Jones said. No classes will take place over the week of Thanksgiving, which was a planned break week. Athletics and extracurricular activities will be suspended until Nov. 30.
When students return could depend on what families do over the holiday.
"We cannot emphasize enough for families to avoid gatherings and to protect themselves," Jones said. "Ultimately, we want our kids in school. We need the community's help to make that happen."
The Northwood School District announced Thursday that it would transition to remote learning for the week after Thanksgiving, Nov. 30 through Dec. 4. It’s a precautionary move, according to District Administrator Scot Kelly, as it is highly likely that families will gather and interact with non-household members during the holiday.
Students will be on break the week of Thanksgiving, then make the move to remote learning for a week. Families needing a device for their child to work on during the move to online learning should contact the school.
As of Thursday, the district expected to continue planned sports activities during remote learning.
The University of Wisconsin-Superior will make its planned move to all online classes following Thanksgiving break for the duration of the fall semester. Plans for spring semester are still being finalized, according to university relations specialist Jim Biros.
In person classes are expected to continue at Cathedral School and Maranatha Academy, according to information received Friday.
Maranatha Administrator Cheree Waring said the school is complying with CDC, state and county guidelines for COVID-19 protocol. There is a plan prepared if a change is needed.
“At this point, our numbers are such that we can be open five days a week for all students, still,” Waring said.
This story was updated at 3:47 p.m. with information on athletics and extracurricular activities at Solon Springs School. It was originally posted at 3:33 p.m.