1 month into statewide school closures, 'districts planning on maintaining until end of year'

MILWAUKEE -- Monday, April 13 marked one month since Governor Tony Evers on March 13 directed the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to issue an agency order mandating the statewide closure of all K-12 schools, public and private, as part of the state’s efforts to respond to and contain the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. The order took effect on March 18, and will continue indefinitely, with students continuing to learn from home.

Mike Thompson

"Districts are settling into this online learning environment," said Mike Thompson, deputy state superintendent, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. "We will just listen to the cue from our state Department of Health and the governor's office about what might happen next, but districts are planning on maintaining this environment until the end of the school year."

While the hours requirement and statewide testing have been waived, the number of credits needing to be completed has not.

"They are not excusing the coursework, or what kids are expected to do by the end of the school year," said Thompson.

Meanwhile, district officials are looking at ways to make sure students are learning at the correct pace, and staying on par.

"I think school districts are taking a look at what they might provide during summer school, and make sure that learning gap isn't wider than what it needs to be, and in the fall, they are looking at accessing where kids are, and trying to provide an opportunity for kids who need help to get that extra help, so they don't fall farther behind," Thompson said.

Thompson said he realizes this is very stressful for students and parents, and addressing social and emotional needs is critically important.

"A parent needs to understand those kids are going through a difficult time, as they are, and we have to be cognizant of that," he said. "School districts try to provide resources to parents to deal with those issues. It's as important as the continuity of learning, in an academic sense, as we go through this. I think this is a condition everybody is just trying to weather through."