The School District of the Menomonie Area school board approved a reopening school plan by a vote of 8-1 Monday.
In-person learning at full capacity with risk management strategies will be in place with students in grades 4K-12. This will resemble a typical five-day Monday-Friday school schedule across all schools in the district starting in Sept.
All students will be given the option to participate in full safer-at-home virtual learning as well.
District administrator Joe Zydowsky said he expects roughly 10-15 percent of students to participate in full online learning and is proud of the board members and community for coming together on the reopening plan.
“As things continue to change we’re going to have to continue to be mobile with our plans,” Zydowsky said. “The board did a great job setting direction at the beginning of the summer and we took that vision and developed a plan that provides choice, flexibility and mobility so that as the pandemic continues to change in our society, we’ll be able to change with it."
Physical distancing of a recommended six feet will be heavily encouraged when practical, but the plan indicates at least three feet is the minimum required.
Distancing is being considered when placing desks in classrooms, arranging seating for meals and when students are lined up for transitions.
If stricter physical distancing requirements become necessary as determined by the Dunn County Health Department, the school district may implement the Blended Learning plan to emphasize at least six feet of distancing throughout the school district.
Jim Swanson is the sole member of the board who voted against the new plan, as he said his independent research indicates three or four feet of social distancing isn’t enough to keep students or anyone else safe from contracting COVID-19.
“There’s nothing out there that says that’s an acceptable alternative, it all says six feet and a mask,” Swanson said. “I really think it needs to be changed. It isn’t taking safety into account first. Three feet or four feet isn’t following the best science out there and we need to follow the best science.”
The use of cloth face coverings and personal protective equipment by staff and students will be required indoors when within six feet of another person.
Individual students, staff members and visitors are prohibited from entering school facilities or participating in any in-person school activity when they exhibit any of the following conditions:
The individual has contracted COVID-19 and has not been released from isolation.
They have been notified of potential exposure and not been released from isolation.
They are experiencing new loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, sore throat or exhibiting two or more secondary symptoms including headache, fatigue, cough, congestion or runny nose or and nausea or vomiting.
In addition to PPE and illness monitoring, no field trips will be offered, rigorous cleaning measures will be implemented and breakfast and lunch will be offered to all students while still promoting physical distancing between students and cohort grouping as much as practical.