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La Crosse Schools begin bringing students back into classrooms Wed.

Rick Solem

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While some schools in the area have attempted to get students back into the classrooms, only to go back to virtual learning, the La Crosse School District has been online this entire time.

That changes Wednesday. Here’s how the the district is phasing students back into classrooms:

  • K-2 grade: Monday — In person five days a week
  • PreK & 3-5 grades: Jan. 25 — In person five days a week
  • 6-8 grades: Feb. 1 — Hybrid, in person two days a week
  • 9-12 grades: Feb. 8 — Hybrid, in person two days a week

Not much has changed with the virus, though. If anything, it’s worse now than before. 

Engel

The difference, La Crosse Schools superintendent, Dr. Aaron Engel, said is what’s been learned the last 10 months by health experts. 

The district has been using the Harvard Global Health Institute to gauge the virus.

“So their guidance indicates,” Engel said Monday on La Crosse Talk PM, “that if we have good infection control measures that we strictly follow — six feet of distance, wearing masks, washing our hands, good ventilation — we should be able to safely reopen schools with zero or near zero transmission of COVID at school.”

Engel said the biggest question from parents are the safety protocols.

“We’ve got very detailed pick-up, drop-off times, procedures for playgrounds and for cafeterias,” he said. “So, it’s really just helping parents understand the myriad of safety precautions we have in place to ensure that our kids are able to be at school safely.”

There are, of course, concerned parents and teachers on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to opening up, and Engel said they’ve done their best to accommodate everybody. That includes getting students into the Virtual Learning Academy for those parents who cannot afford to contract the virus.

The Virtual Academy is currently full now, however. Engel said the enrollment period ended just before the district decided to set mid-January as the week to bring students back.

Learning virtually or in the classroom, students need to eat. While the focus is seemingly always on teachers, parents and students, other staff may get overlooked for the work they put in.

One of those groups is the lunch staff, which adds one more responsibility when students come back into the schools.

“The changes that they’ve had to adapt to have just been monumental,” Engel said, “from packing together lunches for daily, for weekly, for pickups, and now transitioning back into the school buildings while still helping facilitate some of those pickups and deliveries.”

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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