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More schools switching to online learning as COVID-19 activity spikes

The Menasha School District and Oshkosh North and West High Schools will do online learning by the end of the week.
Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 10:37 PM CDT
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Fox Valley, Wis. (WBAY) - More schools in Northeast Wisconsin are switching to virtual learning as counties see an increase in COVID-19 activity.

“Folks really have been, at least at our school level, trying. It’s just some of the things away from school that we don’t have any control over that are driving some of this,” said Superintendent of the Menasha School District, Chris VanderHeyden.

All students in the Menasha School District will switch to virtual learning by the end of this week, after health officials say there has been a spike in COVID-19 activity in the city.

“Between Friday and Monday, the city of Menasha had 20 additional confirmed cases. So, currently we have 75 active cases of COVID-19 with 87 contact investigations,” said Nancy McKenney, health officer for the City of Menasha.

VanderHeyden says a shortage of substitute teachers and absenteeism throughout the district is another driving force behind the transition.

“At the elementary level we had about 8 percent absenteeism that was COVID related. At the high school, middle school, we had about 5 percent that was COVID related as of late last week,” said VanderHeyden.

The upward trend in cases is also impacting the Oshkosh School District. Administrators there are moving classes online for both high schools by Wednesday.

“For Oshkosh West High School we currently have around 130 individuals that have to quarantine, again either due to being COVID positive or, for a vast majority, for being in close contact. Then, over at Oshkosh North High School, we have a little over 100 cases,” said Superintendent, Dr. Vickie Cartwright.

Oshkosh High Schools and the Menasha School District will stay in virtual learning for at least two weeks.

District leaders say county COVID-19 data will impact the decision on how and when to allow students to go back to hybrid or fully in-person learning.

Hemlock Elementary school in the West De Pere School District will switch to all virtual learning on Thursday.

Administrators say teachers will have Tuesday and Wednesday to transition. It’s the only school in the district going to virtual learning at the time of this report.

West De Pere Superintendent, Dennis Krueger, anticipates in-person classes can resume October 5.

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