Green Bay prepares for return to in-person instruction
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – In a matter of days, thousands of Green Bay students will return to the classroom for the first time in nearly a year.
School board members got a peek into what a return looks like at its meeting Monday, Feb. 22.
Deputy Superintendent Vicki Bayer said building leadership is doing everything it can to make it a positive transition.
“In almost all cases, we made specific effort – in large part because the board showed a desire to do so and it makes sense to us as well – that students remain with their classrooms,” she said. “There are some cases where we aren’t able to do that. There are some exceptions. For example, if a teacher will be going out on a leave of absence, or we have to rebalance some class rosters – more specifically at the elementary level.”
Procedures are in place across the district.
However, building leadership has leeway to tweak strategies.
“Each school has been provided with guidelines for daily operations – practices for protections, practices for social distancing, infection control and communication plans, for a few examples,” Bayer said. “Thanks to our behavior team, they put together some things for the schools to think about, just regular procedures – how students should enter the building, exit the building, what does it look like to move to the lunchroom or back to the classroom, and then allow the schools the opportunity to think more deeply about what that’s going to look like specific to their own building and how they are going to teach that to students and what information do parents need.”
She said each school has reached out to families to prepare for a return onsite, and all site-specific questions should be directed to building leadership.
“We are confident that our staff will continue to do the best that they can in order to meet the needs of our students,” Bayer said.
Elementary students, along with sixth- and ninth-graders, which the district characterizes as transitional grades as they enter new schools, return Monday, March 1.
Students in seventh and eighth grade and 10th-12th grade will return a week later.
Elementary students will follow a blended model – in-person four days a week, with Wednesdays remaining virtual.
Secondary students will follow an A/B cohort model with two days a week of onsite instruction.
All students will learn virtually March 22-28, the week after the district’s scheduled spring break.
All classrooms are now equipped with new cameras with omnidirectional microphones to allow virtual students to interact with in-person teachers and students during lessons.
Bayer said all new learning will be livestreamed at all grade levels.
“After initial instruction, teachers can structure the remainder of their class period whatever best suits their need for that curriculum, for that particular lesson,” she said.
Bayer said community circles at the elementary levels and advisory at the secondary level will continue as they have since the beginning of the school year for students in both learning platforms.
Other highlights include:
• Masks are required at all times unless eating or drinking.
• Students onsite will bring their laptops each day, 90 percent of books are online.
• All students will have access to specials, regardless of learning model. Virtual options will be either prerecorded or livestreamed lessons.
• All students receiving services, including interventions, will continue to do so regardless of the learning platform.
• Elementary students will continue to use Seesaw. Secondary students will continue using Google classroom. This includes both in-person and virtual students.
• Teachers will provide guidelines and procedures for how students will participate when on Zoom.
• Times will be scheduled throughout the school day for live streaming of new learning.
• All students will have the same learning expectations regardless of the learning platform.
There is some confusion when a return to full, onsite instruction for all grades, five-days-a-week, could happen.
No action was taken on a return to full, onsite instruction.
Board member Andrew Becker questioned whether it would revert back to the board’s original gating criteria.
“Not a word was said in the last motion about full in-person, it was about the hybrid return dates,” Becker said. “We either have a full in-person that goes back to when we had gating criteria or we have nothing about when we return to full in-person. I certainly thought I was voting on a motion about the blended dates.”
Melissa Thiel Collar, district legal counsel, said she would need to research it further.
“There have been so many motions,” Thiel Collar said. “I’d have to go back and read all the motions. I wasn’t prepared for that tonight.”
Trustees agreed to discuss this at their next regular board meeting, Monday, March 8.
“The board could adopt any number of thresholds that would allow us to come back, or you could move to a date-certain, like we are working with this time around,” said Superintendent Steve Murley. “One of the things we definitely will need is some advance notice in order to make that jump.”
Pete Ross, chief of operations, said the transportation department needs a three-week lead time to plan transportation changes.
“As much as I’d like to say we can turn transportation on and off with a light switch, we have over 400 routes,” Ross said. “It is a Herculean task. We need time in order to get all of the data accurate for the bus routes to be scheduled if we go back in-person. four-days-a-week or five-days-a-week.”
In-person board meetings
Trustees will return to the boardroom for meetings beginning March 1.
It is unknown at this time when the public will be allowed to attend meetings in person.
However, meetings will continue to be livestreamed on YouTube, and are likely to continue to be into the future.