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Divided parents petition De Pere school leaders on reopening

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 6:39 AM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - The De Pere Unified School District board votes Monday on whether to bring students back for in-person learning.

Two petitions are now going around the school district -- one urging the school board to continue virtual learning while the other pushes to get kids back in the classroom.

Any parent who has a child doing virtual learning right now likely knows the struggle, and it’s definitely a divided issue in any school district: Parents who think kids should be in school in person and those who believe it’s not safe.

Parents on both sides are trying to make sure their voices are heard.

The two petitions were started last week. The one asking the school board to resume in-person learning has more than 700 signatures, while the one urging the district to continue virtual learning has nearly 300.

The De Pere school district has said it will look at criteria from the local health department and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if it’s safe for kids to go back to class. Those guidelines include having a positivity rate for coronavirus tests at or below 8%. Brown County’s two-week average positivity rate for the first half of October was 32%, according to Health and Human Services.

District Superintendent Ben Villarruel says it’s ultimately up to the school board.

“They’ll have to wrestle with a variety of opinions from a variety of places, including the petitions, including phone calls, emails that they’ve received, including the CDC guidelines, advice from the health department, the medical community,” Villarruel said.

The school board meeting is Monday. Villarruel says if school board members vote to send students back to class, that return date would be the following Monday, November 9.

“We want and are committed to having our students back for face-to-face instruction,” Villarruel said. “We want to do it in an environment that’s safe for everyone, and we’re hoping that day comes soon.”

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