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Draft EC School Plan Would Offer Blend of Virtual, In-Person Education

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Lakeshore School, Eau Claire.
Lakeshore School, Eau Claire.

When they return to school this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eau Claire school district students will experience a blend of in-person and virtual learning under a plan scheduled to be considered by the Eau Claire school board on Monday.

The draft plan, which school officials say is aligned with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department’s “Respond Together Eau Claire” plan, offers staged learning options based on the health department’s assessment of the pandemic. (As of July 15, Eau Claire County is in stage D of the Respond Together plan.)

Options also vary based based upon grade level. For example, kindergartners would be assigned to a cohort of children who would go to school in-person either on Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, and would study virtually the other three days. By contrast, children in first and second grades would attend school in person every day but Wednesday. (Wednesdays would be set aside to disinfect schoolrooms.) 

In addition, a 100% virtual option would be available for all students under the proposal. Here’s a look at a PDF of the proposal:

An email outlining the plan was sent to parents of district students on Wednesday evening by Michael Johnson, the district’s new superintendent. The letter notes that as schools reopen, they will undertake protocols such as “physical distancing whenever possible, temperature taking, hand-washing, and use of hand sanitizer.”

“Above all else, a key priority is to protect the health and safety of our entire school district community,” Johnson wrote. “We will share more information on what teaching and learning will look like in the coming weeks.”

The school board is scheduled to meet virtually at 7pm on Monday, July 20. For information on the virtual meeting, visit https://www.ecasd.us/District/Board-of-Education/Board-Live-Stream.

Here is the full text of the letter sent to school district families:

Dear ECASD Families,

On Monday, July 20, the ECASD Board of Education will consider a proposed instructional model aligned with Respond Together Eau Claire, a plan developed by Eau Claire City-County Health Department. The model will outline how we will approach learning in the upcoming school year depending on a variety of factors.

The Respond Together Eau Claire plan includes seven steps, designated as Safer at Home and Steps A through F. Based on the risks posed by COVID-19 in our community, the orders of the plan are updated every two weeks. These orders directly impact the District’s teaching and learning delivery model.

HERE you will find a chart that provides an overview of the proposed model. Following Board approval, we will survey families to gather more information to assist us in our implementation.

As our schools reopen, a number of safety protocols will be shared for all students and staff to follow. These measures include physical distancing whenever possible, temperature taking, hand-washing, and use of hand sanitizer. In situations in which physical distancing is not possible, we will require students and staff to wear masks. We are receiving masks from the state to provide to our students.

Above all else, a key priority is to protect the health and safety of our entire school district community. We will share more information on what teaching and learning will look like in the coming weeks. Until then, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer.

Sincerely,

Michael Johnson, Superintendent
Eau Claire Area School District