School to Shift Reopening Plan Due to New Guidance from PHMDC

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Cameron Bren

MIDDLETON–The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Board of Education is poised to adopt a new plan for students to return to in-person instruction in light of new guidance released for schools by Public Health Madison Dane County (PHMDC) at its Dec. 21 meeting. District administration asked the board for one week to review the guidance and develop a virtual/in-person blended model for all students.

The guidance from PHMDC was released hours before the board’s Dec. 7 meeting and shifts the direction the district will go in implementing a virtual/in-person blended instruction model. The change comes one week after the board approved a half-day blended model for students in grades 4K-2.

Superintendent Dana Monogue said the newly released guidance is significantly different than the guidance the district has been operating under since August.

“This information will cause us to reconsider our blended model implementation plan so that we can respond to these updated requirements and recommendations from Public Health Madison Dane County,” Monogue said. “The guidance that was released today significantly departs from the guidance we have been adhering to since August.”

Monogue said she had not had enough time to fully review the guidelines but noted the major difference is that now the district can implement a plan for students at all grade levels whereas previously it was limited to students in grades 4K-2.

“The guidance focuses intently on the virus mitigation protocols schools need to have in place to open safely,” she said. “There are no metrics that we must use to open our schools and it opens the possibility of us opening our middle and high schools according to a timeline that we collaboratively develop.”

School board president Annette Ashley pointed out that the board could not officially discuss the new guidelines under state open meetings law because it was not on the board agenda.

Monogue asked the board to table a discussion on the agenda about a plan to phase in third and fourth grade students into the half-day model and schedule a meeting Dec. 21. when the administration will bring forward a 4K-12 plan. 

Monogue noted, as previously discussed by the board, the half-day blended model approved for students in grades 4K-2 would not be feasible on a district-wide scale. The administration plans to put forth a 2-1-2 model, she said. 

To limit class size students at each school would be split into two cohorts, one attending in-person instruction Monday and Tuesday and virtual instruction Thursday and Friday and vice versa for the other cohort. Wednesdays would be virtual independent learning days for students and planning days for staff. 

“We will need to discuss the realities associated with the 2-1-2 model implementation for all grade levels and a timeline associated for that implementation,” Monogue said. “As we previously mentioned a half-day model will not work at the secondary level.”

She acknowledged the communication burden the new developments put on families of the district.

“We realize the communication implications of these new developments and we ask that our families give us a little more patience so we can determine the best path forward right now,” Monogue said. “We did not know these guidelines were going to be released today. We also did not understand that the guidance would allow school boards and school district teams to now consider middle and high school students. We need some time to process this information.”

School board member Bob Hesselbein asked Monogue if one week was enough time to develop an entirely new plan. Monogue said she would have a better idea after meeting with the district administrative team. She said she would ask the board for more time if needed.

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