July 28, 2020 district communication
LA CROSSE, Wis., (July 28, 2020) – We continue to work and plan for a successful start to the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. At this time, the School District of La Crosse will be opening virtually this fall for all students, 4K-12, for at least the month of September. When we do return to in-person learning, masks will be required for all students in grades 1-12 as well as staff (except for those with necessary restrictions) in all phases of the La Crosse County Health Department COVID-19 Compass.
In the coming weeks, we will provide technology (tablets or laptops depending on grade) for all students K-12 to facilitate virtual learning. If you have internet connectivity issues, we will continue to work with families to provide access solutions.
This decision was not made lightly. We have worked closely with the La Crosse County Health Department to understand their guidance in each phase of their COVID-19 Compass. We have also collaborated with other La Crosse County school districts to align our practices as best we can.
This is a public health crisis, and the experts at the La Crosse County Health Department are the individuals who determine what is safe and what is not. Anticipated updates to County guidance indicate in-person instruction in Red (severe risk) will not be possible. Instruction in Orange (high risk) will be limited to classrooms that limit mixing with other classrooms of students. Given what we know about the conditions in La Crosse County, we can safely anticipate we will be in the Red or Orange on September 1, 2020.
We need some level of certainty at this time for staff and parents. Staff need certainty to plan for the best possible instruction for the start of the year. Parents need certainty to prepare and make good decisions for the education and care of their children. Given that we will likely be in Red or Orange, we know that starting virtually is very likely. We can create certainty for staff and parents by committing to a virtual start regardless. To help with the decision process, we have extended the deadline for the Coulee Region Virtual Academy to August 2, 2020.
The month of September will be virtual instruction. Two weeks prior to October, we will be closely monitoring the conditions in La Crosse County. If we are consistently out of the Red on the County’s COVID-19 Compass for the two weeks prior to October, we will switch to in-person learning for the levels that we are able to do so.
In Orange, we anticipate that elementary will be able to meet for in-person learning, five days a week. In Orange, for middle and high school we are still exploring blended options using A/B schedules or other ideas, but may have to commit to virtual learning until we reach safer levels. At this time, if we reach Yellow (moderate risk) or Green (low risk), we anticipate being able to offer in-person instruction for all students five days a week.
The County is working on some provisions in the Red phase for emergency daytime services for students that have significant needs. We are working to determine what this will look like and for which students we will be able to provide services.
School lunch and breakfast will be provided as we did during the school closure in spring and continued this summer. We are making improvements and updating processes to ensure every student has access to meals.
We understand that this decision is very difficult for many families. We are doing everything we can to safely provide the best possible education for all students. We will be releasing more details as we can. Please continue to visit our website, www.lacrosseschools.org, for FAQs and continued updates.
Thank you for your patience and continued support of the School District of La Crosse in these uncertain times.
Aaron J. J. Engel, Ph.D.
School District of La Crosse