Green Bay prepares for potential pivot to virtual learning–UPDATED 8 p.m. Wednesday
By Press Times Staff
UPDATE: The district announced Wednesday night due to a critical staff shortage at the Minoka High School Program and at Washington Middle School, staff and students will also temporarily move to virtual learning through Monday, Jan 10.
GREEN BAY – Just a day after sending out an email to parents and staff regarding potentially critical staff shortages, with moves to temporary virtual learning a possibility – the district announced Chappell Elementary will pivot to virtual learning for three days.
Chappell students learned asynchronous (independently) Thursday, Jan. 6, while teachers readjusted their lesson plans.
Communications Director Lori Blakeslee said the plan is for students to return Tuesday, Jan. 11.
She said if critical staffing shortages at Chappell have not been resolved, families will be notified no later than 9 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10 if virtual instruction will continue.
In a letter sent to staff and parents Jan. 4, the district said it’s facing near critical staff shortages as it has seen an increase in staff experiencing COVID-19 symptoms after winter recess, which could possibly prompt a change to virtual learning.
Blakeslee said further complicating the situation is a lack of testing options and delays in test results.
According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard as of Wednesday, Jan. 4, 284 staff members were in quarantine or isolation, more than at any time in 2021.
Blakeslee said the surge has added to the typical staff absences.
“The issue is really more about whether we are able to cover the absences in a school,” she said. “While some of the absences are COVID-related, others may be maternity leaves, caring for sick family members, unanticipated surgeries, etc., so while the number of absences will be reviewed, it will also be whether the absences can be covered.”
Superintendent Steve Murley said though the administration knows the best place for students to learn is in the classroom with their teachers, pivoting may be needed to ensure meaningful learning.
“When our teachers and other staff members are absent in high enough numbers that our students can’t have that high quality educational experience, the next best alternative is to be with their teachers in a virtual learning environment,” Murley said. “We are doing everything we can to keep kids in classes in school with their teachers. Using a school-by-school process for any virtual transition should allow as many students as possible to stay in class on site.”
Murley said the district is doing everything it can to maintain in-person learning, including using district office staff in classrooms and increasing pay for substitute teachers to have a larger pool of substitutes.
The letter, which was sent to prepare families for the possible move to virtual, states if a school needs to move to virtual learning, families and staff will be notified by 9 p.m. the night before if at all possible.
Blakeslee said staff members are being asked to call in their absences as soon as possible, so notice can be given to families the night before, rather than making a decision the day of.
Notifications will be sent by email, automated call and text messages, as well as be posted on the district/schools’ websites and social media platforms.
If a school is moved to virtual learning, Blakelees said the goal is to return to in-person after three days.
Students will work independently on the first day of virtual learning, to give teachers time to readjust their lesson plans.
Meal pick-up will be offered during virtual learning days, and scheduled co-curriculars at the middle and high schools will continue, unless otherwise communicated.
“While it is our greatest hope that we will not need to move any school to virtual learning due to a critical staff shortage, we want our families and staff to be prepared in case we would need to make that decision,” the district letter said.