The Monona Grove School Board held a special meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6 to discuss Superintendent Dan Olson’s 4k-2 school reopening plan.

In July, Olson directed all Monona Grove schools to operate completely virtual due to COVID-19. On Sept. 25, Olson announced his intent to introduce a phased reopening plan.

The plan, which Olson calls a hybrid instructional model, would allow Monona Grove students in grades 4k-2 to return to in-person schooling on a limited basis.

Officially titled the AB/AB model, the plan would allow students two days a week of face-to-face learning. They would be split into three separate cohorts. Cohort A would attend physical school on Monday and Thursday, while Cohort B would attend on Tuesday and Friday. Wednesdays would be used as a day for teachers to plan and clean. The third option, Cohort C, is for students who opt to remain 100% virtual.

Students would be in school from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on their respective cohort days. Lisa Heipp, Monona Grove School District’s director of instruction, said the district decided upon full days of school as opposed to half days to better accommodate for childcare and cleaning purposes. She also said this plan would be easier to eventually transition to grades 3-12, as the bus system cannot handle the transportation of that many students so quickly while also remaining sanitary.

On days when a student’s cohort is not in physical schools, those students would be participating in what Heipp described as independent virtual learning. Students would have a 30-minute morning check-in with their teachers but be on their own for the remainder of the school day.

One big concern raised by school board members was the logistics of how teachers would be split among the cohorts. Olson and Heipp confirmed that, depending on which cohort they are sorted into, several students may lose their teacher and be reassigned into a new class. Olson said that while teachers will have the opportunity to give a preference on which cohort they oversee, preference cannot be guaranteed.

Olson said the schools would be equipped with materials to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as plexiglass, floor adhesives, safety signage, hand sanitizing stations, space for social distancing and no drinking fountains.

He also said that if any students or staff were to test positive for COVID-19, it is possible that entire classes would need to quarantine for at least two weeks.

As for their vote, the school board has two options. They can either vote yes to the AB/AB hybrid instructional model or vote to keep things as they are, 100% virtual. The board agreed to put off their final vote until their next meeting on Oct. 14, citing their intent to send a survey to parents before making a final decision. If the board were to vote in favor of the hybrid plan, it would take effect on Nov. 9, the beginning of the second quarter.

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