School District of Waukesha votes to start school year using 'hybrid model'

Back to school in Waukesha comes with controversy. The school board met Wednesday, Aug. 12 to consider a phased-in approach to reopening. After four and a half hours of debate, the School District of Waukesha Board of Education is opting for a hybrid model for back to school this fall. Classes begin on Sept. 1. 

In a 5 to 4 vote, the board decided to explore having middle and high school students attend classes virtually on Mondays -- and alternate between in-person and virtual learning the rest of the week. 

Elementary school students will attend in-person five days a week but parents will have the option to go virtual 

The board rejected an earlier proposal that would have required all students to start the year online and work toward benchmarks for in-person learning. 

The plans proved controversial, drawing student and parent protests before the meeting. 

Parents call for in-person learning in Waukesha

Parents call for in-person learning in Waukesha

"The CDC directors saying that the kids are fine to go back to school. I don’t understand what the problem is," said Karen Duane, parent of daughter at Waukesha West and a teacher in Milwaukee.

"I support a phased reopening – not out of fear of this virus. I’m not afraid of getting sick. I am, however, extremely concerned for my students," said a teacher. 

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has noted the statewide mask mandate applies inside school buildings. In Waukesha, teachers will wear both a mask and a face shield. Masks are also required on the school bus.

On Friday, Aug. 7, the county hit a record for the total number of new, positive COVID-19 cases. In July, nearly half of all cases were from people ages 10 to 29.