SHEBOYGAN FALLS, Wis. - The Sheboygan Falls School District has moved to an all-virtual learning model for grades 5 through 8 at Sheboygan Falls Middle School for the following 14 days. This, after the district experienced "an increase in absences due to COVID-19 testing."
Officials are not commenting on the number of cases at the school. But in a letter sent to parents, the district said a large number of students have been in close contact with positive cases and are in quarantine. School officials say the anticipated return to in-person learning is Wednesday, Sept. 30.
"We had a handful of positive cases, and through close contacts, that number became a level we couldn`t operate safely at as a school district," said Annelee Bennin, Superintendent of School District of Sheboygan Falls.
All schools in the district started off the semester with in-person instruction while implementing safety precautions such as masks, social distancing, and assigned cohorts.
"We're hoping that a short closure of 14 days allows us to be back face-to-face like we planned at a sooner rate than if we were to stay in and run the risk of further spread," Bennin said.
Annelee Bennin, Superintendent of School District of Sheboygan Falls
Although the confirmed positive cases and close contacts have not impacted the high school and elementary school, the superintendent said enough staff members at the middle school are affected to the point where the district would have been unable to keep the other buildings open if the middle school did not shut down.
"The current situation with COVID has left use in a more difficult position. There's many substitutes just don't feel comfortable returning to schools, understandably," Bennin said.
Parents said they were not surprised to receive the letter detailing the situation on Tuesday.
"It's kind of expected with as bad as the COVID is," said Nicole Nieto, Sheboygan Falls Middle School parent.
Sheboygan Falls Middle School
The district is now working in partnership with the Sheboygan County Division of Public Health to alert students over the next 24 hours if they need to quarantine and monitor their symptoms.
"Having those close contacts at home for 14 days, even if they don't become positive cases, which we are definitely hoping that they don`t, but if they become positive cases, keeping them at home is just a really good proactive step that we can do to stop the spread within the school," said Libby Jacobs, Public Information Officer for the Sheboygan County Division of Public Health. "It's really going to take an entire community to everyone be a part of this solution."
If you are a close contact, you will receive a letter from the school and a call from the Department of Health Services within the next 24 to 48 hours.
The Sheboygan Falls School District released the following information in a letter sent home to families:
As you think through the next 14 days, please keep in mind, if you are not contacted for contact tracing, this is not a quarantine or isolation for you and there is nothing additional you need to do at this time. This is a precautionary decision the district made in collaboration with the health department to mitigate the spread and also ensure we operate our school in a safe manner. This decision was difficult to make, but necessary to prevent further spread and allow us to be back in school in 14 days.
As with a snow or cold weather day, all school sponsored sports or activities at the middle school level will be canceled while we are in virtual school.
In the next couple days you will see information regarding:
- Food service will contact you today in regards to placing an order for Thursday and Friday.
- Information from your child’s cohort teacher relating to virtual learning
If you do not have internet access, please notify your building principal who will then work with the Technology Team to provide access. If your child finds that he/she is missing supplies, the Chromebook, charger, or other items, please call the school to notify us of your child’s name and we will gather items and have them in the office for you. Please find IT resources here: https://www.sheboyganfalls.k12.wi.us/district/covid-19