Racine Unified School District board discusses 3 scenarios for reopening schools, similar to MPS' 3-phase plan

Janell Decker

RACINE -- The Racine Unified School District Board of Education during a public listening session Monday, July 13 discussed three scenarios for reopening schools in the fall -- similar to those proposed by Milwaukee Public Schools leaders. This, a little more than a month from the scheduled start of classes.

The three scenarios are remote learning, where schools would remain closed and students would take part in virtual education, hybrid learning -- a mix of in-person education and virtual education and 100% face-to-face learning, with students returning to classrooms.

District leaders discussed parent survey results -- with polling conducted in June, in which parents were asked how comfortable they would be sending their child to school in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"We heard that the majority wanted face-to-face, but there still were some with concerns," said Janell Decker with RUSD.

Emily Debaker

Wisconsin broke a record for confirmed new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, July 14 for the fourth time in six days, as Gov. Tony Evers and state health leaders implored people to wear masks and take other steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus. As the number of cases has continued to rise, parents' answers have changed.

"We've been seeing a strong push toward hybrid and/or all-remote just because of the way that things are changing," said Emily Debaker with RUSD.

It's an example of how fast the pandemic can force change, and why RUSD leaders have been working on the re-entry plan since May, forming action teams featuring a blend of stakeholders, including teachers, to produce three different return-to-school scenarios.

"They want to see that safety and health, and following CDC guidelines, and all of the above are practiced in our schools," said Debaker. "They want to make sure that their classrooms are safe, not only for them, but for their students, as well."

RUSD leaders said the final plan for reopening schools, which they hope to reveal by the end of July/beginning of August, will evolve as the COVID-19 situation does, and said a return to pre-pandemic education will likely "never happen."

In brainstorming scenarios for reopening schools, district leaders said they're committed to student and staff safety, flexibility and instruction -- with a preference for traditional classroom learning and creating conditions to safely reopen schools.

"If we can keep with this collective mindset that we've had throughout this planning process -- I'm very, very confident that everyone will end up pleased," said Decker.