In a regularly scheduled board meeting Wednesday, Jan. 27, The Oshkosh Area School District’s school board voted 5-2 to send students back to school 5 days a week beginning mid- to late-February.
Preschool through 8th grade will return Thursday, Feb. 18 while high school students will resume everyday classes Thursday, Feb. 25.
In a turnabout from two days prior when the board voted 2-5 against it, the school district will no longer follow the matrix set forth this past summer that relied heavily on community spread. Now, each school will be evaluated on its own numbers.
In a release to the public on Wednesday, Jan. 28, the district states, “School and district administrators will continue to closely monitor data at the district, building, grade, and classroom level to decide if temporary learning model transitions are needed.”
However, according to Oshkosh North principal Jacquelyn Kiffmeyer, model 3 will no longer be an option.
“One thing I want to make sure is clear that essentially there is no more hybrid after Feb. 25th. We will either be in Model 2 or we will need to switch to a short term model 4.”
Kiffmeyer explained that the school would only move to model 4 if a staff shortage or COVID outbreak in the building occurs.
The district will try to keep all schools open. However, a need may arise to close certain buildings or classes. In addition, quarantining due to close contact will occur regularly with the 14-day requirement unchanged from earlier this year. A student must quarantine for the full 14 days, regardless of if he or she tested negative before then. If a student quarantines because of a household contact, he or she could potentially be out 24 days (10 days for the COVID-positive household member plus 14 days quarantine after that).
As of Jan. 29, Oshkosh North would be in model 2 according to the board’s decision despite being rated as a high burden age group on the Winnebago County Health Department’s Jan. 21 weekly report.
For many classrooms, moving back to full in-person learning will mean no longer relying on social distancing to lower the chances of COVID-19 spread.
The district stated, “Maintaining six-foot physical distance will not be possible with all students back in
Principal Kiffmeyer acknowledges that not all families, students, and staff may agree with the choice.
“We understand this decision may be causing a variety of emotions. Our number one goal remains
keeping students and staff safe,” Kiffmeyer says.
Students, staff, and families are reminded to continue proper mask-wearing, thorough handwashing, and self-reporting of COVID symptoms to help keep kids safe–and schools open.
This story will be updated with more information and interviews soon.