In separate special meetings Monday, July 27, the Monona Grove and McFarland school boards adopted plans that will have students return to classes in September via virtual instruction only.
Administrators in each district decided earlier that schools would resume with online instruction; the school boards adopted the framework under which schools will operate.
“The framework is a phased approach to resuming in-person instruction as public health conditions allow,” McFarland Superintendent Andrew Briddell said.
McFarland schools have a five-step framework, with classes beginning at the second step. This step features remote learning provided by teachers with targeted in-person supports, including scheduled classes and real-time interactions among students and teachers.
Future steps include a mix of remote and in-person learning up to the traditional in-person attendance.
“The district will provide a minimum of two weeks’ notice to students, families and staff prior to moving to a different step in the framework,” Briddell said. “Families, students, and educators alike need to be prepared for the possibility that changes in public health conditions may require shifting back to a previous step. This change may need to occur for a single classroom, a building or districtwide.”
A more detailed back-to-school plan will be presented at another special board meeting, set for Monday, Aug. 3.
Students in Monona and Cottage Grove will return to classes in what officials are calling Virtual Learning 2.0.
Students, families, teachers and administrators can expect that Virtual Learning 2.0 will be different from the virtual learning that took place in the spring, when schools were first closed due to the coronavirus, Superintendent Dan Olson said.
“Virtual Learning 2.0 is enhanced by using what we learned from emergency virtual learning, from our all-virtual summer school and from staff and family survey feedback,” he said.
The first of three significant changes will be the increase in live instruction and interaction with students and teachers. In the spring, a lot of the interaction took place via recorded lessons from teachers.
Second will be the return to attendance and participation expectations for students, and grading and progress reporting for staff. In spring, staff used a pass/fail system to note student mastery of subjects. For grades 6-12, letter grades will return in the fall.
Finally, Olson said there will be a focus on social-emotional learning, relationship building and mental health monitoring.
Like McFarland, Monona Grove will have other steps on the way to fully reopen schools to the traditional model.