Glitchy start to school year as Green Bay school admins think ahead to getting kids back in classroom

There’s no set timeline on when students would return to the classroom.
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 10:46 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The only part of the 2020-2021 school year that may have felt normal within the Green Bay Area Public School District were the glitches during the first week of virtual learning.

“Kiddos were having a hard time getting on and once they were, were getting kicked off. So, our first Tuesday and Thursday were rougher from a start stand point than we would like to see,” said Superintendent, Stephen Murley.

After some trouble-shooting the district identified the problem with the internet service provider and Murley says virtual learning has been much smoother since; but the big question is, when will students be able to return full time to the classroom?

Right now that’s undetermined as the district waits for recommendations from Brown County Health and Human Services when it comes to schools reopening.

“We presume there will be other districts in Brown County that will also choose to line themselves with Brown County Public Health recommendations and I think that would make for a lot more clarity for people in the community,” said Murley.

Action 2 News first told you a few weeks ago, the school board agreed to its own gating criteria to determine when schools can switch between the learning models. Board member Andrew Becker came up the the metrics. It’s based on Brown County’s COVID-19 case burden rate over a seven day rolling average.

“Sometimes you see a percentage number go up artificially because there just wasn’t that many tests done,” said Murley.  “So, the burden rate really looks at how many people have the virus and are testing positive.”

A special board meeting is set for Monday to allow the county more time to put out its recommendation. The board plans to decide what gating criteria to implement at that meeting.

For now, administrators continue to work towards the goal of getting students back in the classroom.

“Trying to create some cohorts in each building and each class level is our first step in the process,” said Murley.  “We had the team sit down and start to build those out, and send out some information to parents about how that process is going to work.”

Murley says having all grade levels come in cohorts would be ideal, especially for the elementary students.

“We’d have about 10 kids per room, we can spread them out, we’ve already mocked up those rooms, we know what that looks like.”

High school would be a little more challenging since students move between classrooms.

Another challenge the district is facing has to do with getting Chromebooks and hot spots to students who need them.

“Unfortunately, as the school year unfolded, we had students and parents who had not made those requests before the school year started, so they came in and requested them as the school year started; so we found ourselves a bit underwater on that,” said Murley.

The district is in the process of getting the materials to students in need, but are also asking families who may have school issued technology and are not using it, to return those items.

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