Green Bay parents organize while GBAPSD updates recommendations for blended learning

Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 11:15 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The lights are on, but the halls remain empty inside Green Bay Public Schools.

“It’s just really disappointing and sad to see so many, well all the buildings, sitting empty and knowing that other school districts have worked hard to come up with creative plans to get the kids back to school,” said Melissa Stitz.

She’s taking the lead on organizing a peaceful protest on December 12 to encourage school administrators, and board members to move out of the strictly virtual learning model.

“Really, pulling together to send the message that our kids needed to be back in school,” said Stitz.

The protest comes as the district updates its plans on moving to a blended learning model.

“I think probably one of the biggest changes that people will see is, instead of just a recommendation for all children, we’re going to have several different sets of students for whom we’ll have different gating criteria,” said Stephen Murley, Superintendent.

Under the revised plan, elementary students would be in-person four days a week, but students in middle and high school would come back in phases.

“We know based on the number of kids we have and the size of our buildings, there’s going to be an enormous challenge with physical distancing,” said Murley.  “I think it’s responsible for us to look at children at different age levels and balance those teaching and learning needs, those social emotional needs with the ability to keep them healthy and safe and recognizing there are different points in time where we’re comfortable bringing one group of students back, but not another.”

According to the district’s current documents, students in grades 7, 8, 10,11, and 12 would stay virtual, while 9th graders would come back four days a week.

Some school board members expressed concerns about that piece during a meeting on November 23.

In order for the school district to bring kids back, even to a hybrid model, positive COVID-19 cases in Brown County would need to drop significantly.

“It may be attainable to get to 100 cases total per 100,000, but it’s still a very strict standard,” said Andrew Becker, a school board member.

That’s part of the current gating criteria the district needs to see to move from offsite to blended learning.

The board will revisit the criteria at it’s next board meeting on December 14 along with the district’s recommendations for hybrid learning.

“I think it’s important that we at least try to have a chance to hear from doctors in the area, find out what they feel is safe within our system,” said Becker.  “What have we learned from places that have had kids in school? Are we having high infection rates among students in school and among staff?”

Parents are also growing more and more anxious about the gating criteria and hope by making their voices heard collectively, the district will listen.

“We have many issues that we need to work through and it needs to be worked through quickly. We have to have expectations of a timeline rather than kick the can down the road over and over again,” said Stitz.

Where the December 12 protest will be held is still in the works, but Stitz says it will be from 1-3 p.m. and participants are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item which will be donated to Paul’s Pantry.

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