The Poynette School District set tentative start and end times for all three schools within the district for whenever students return for in-person instruction during the 2020-21 academic year.
District Administrator Matt Shappell sent out a letter to parents and guardians of students on June 26 and addressed a few topics.
Setting a single start time was the hope for the district when it sent a survey out earlier in the summer.
“We had a very strong response to the single start/single route survey,” Shappell wrote. “A vast majority of the respondents were in favor of a single start/single route. At the most recent school board meeting, the board acted to move forward with a single start time for 2020-21.”
As it stands now, the middle and high school would have a start time of 8:10 a.m., while the elementary school would begin at 8:15 a.m. Elementary school students would end their day at 3:20 p.m., while the day for middle and high schoolers would end at 3:25 p.m.
“We anticipate four-year-old kindergarten remaining close to the same times as the rest of the grades,” Shappell said. “We still have a few details to work out, but we wanted to share these approximate times to help families to plan.”
More information on the hours will be coming at a later time. Shappell added that the times are subject to change because the district is still working with Go Riteway, the bus company, to finalize their times and routes.
One ongoing topic of discussion for the district is putting together a plan far the fall semester and whether it will involve in-person or online instruction, or both.
Recently, the Wisconsin Department of Instruction released its guidelines on how schools could reopen in the fall.
“Since the release of the document, administrators from across the state have been meeting with health departments and representatives from the DPI seeking clarification of many of the points,” Shappell said. “Student safety is always the priority of the District and while it is important to note that there is no 100 percent safe instructional option, we will strive to create a plan that fits Poynette’s unique needs.”
Shappell said that this upcoming September will not look like the September of last year in regards to starting out a school year. He also said that the fall plan will most likely not be 100 percent virtual, like the close to the 2019-20 year was.
“We anticipate several different scenarios for learning environments, some of which may include virtual learning, some face-to-face learning, and/or a blend of the two,” Shappell said. “Our plan, like many others, will be flexible and we anticipate moving in and out of different phases throughout the year.”
Shappell added that the district will send out another online survey to parents and guardians seeking more feedback on this topic. The district will also continue to talk with local and state health officials as well as other school districts in the area.
There are numerous decisions that need to be made, especially if in-person instruction will take place in the fall. Shappell noted the questions of if students and staff will be required to wear masks, if visitors or volunteers be allowed in school buildings and how many students will be allowed in a classroom at one time.
“Currently the guidance is 10 (students in a classroom), but we’ve been told there’s flexibility in that number if we keep groups of students from mixing together (what DPI refers to as a cohort model),” Shappell said.
He noted that keeping student groups from mixing is easier at the elementary level and more challenging as the grade-level increases. Shappell is awaiting further guidance on how to handle co-curriculars, bus transportation and monitoring student’s temperatures on a daily basis.
“Even though there’s some uncertainty, I’m confident that our staff will be there for your students,” Shappell concluded. “Our team knows their mission is to serve students, keeping them safe, and preparing them for whatever comes next.”