SASD moves to virtual learning
Starting Monday, September 28, the Sparta Area School District will become 100 percent virtual, at the RED level. This determination was made Wednesday based on conversations with the Monroe County Health Department (MCHD) and with guidance provided by the CDC, Wisconsin Department of Public Health and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction regarding local COVID-19 conditions.
While the district remains in the RED, district buildings will be closed to the public and all schools will move to the virtual learning model as indicated in the district’s in-building learning plan.
In August, in order to replace the original COVID Compass, the school board approved a different model, which utilizes a color system (green, yellow, orange, red) to determine the level of in-building learning, based on local COVID conditions.
The district updates its status level every Wednesday afternoon, with guidance from the MCHD and any changes go into full effect the following Monday.
The color system is based on the Harvard Model, information from DHS and DPI and was developed in cooperation with the MCHD.
“It has been shared with families,” Superintendent Dr. Amy Van Deuren wrote in a statement. “We knew and communicated that this year was going to require flexibility as we opened school to provide in-building learning opportunities as much as safely possible.”
Van Deuren added that all of the planning, communication and all of the mitigation procedures enabled the district to open and to engage in in-building instruction for the first three weeks of the school year.
“We’re taking it one week at a time until we can resume in-building learning safely. The coronavirus is here and the spread is accelerating, whether we like it or not,” she said, adding that as a result, the district is moving to virtual learning.
Classes will transition to fully virtual starting on Sept. 28 to give parents time to make arrangements for childcare. Athletics and co-curriculars will move to virtual starting today (Thursday) and all SASD games and practices have been canceled while Monroe County is in RED.
During the RED level school closure, free breakfast and lunch meals will be available to all SASD students for pickup. Meals must be pre-ordered using the ordering form linked on the district’s website.
Orders must be placed by 11 a.m. on the business day prior to pick up; meals for Monday must be ordered by 11 a.m. the previous Friday. The meals can be picked up at Sparta High School Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.
Each student will receive information from their respective schools regarding details for taking home technology and materials necessary for virtual learning.
When the district moves back to ORANGE or YELLOW status, which would allow for in-building learning, classes will resume in person on the Monday after the change, which would likely be made on a Wednesday following the weekly meeting with the county health department.
Athletics and co-curricular activities would resume the day after the change, most likely a Thursday.
“The good news is that we are prepared. The result of the planning, communication and mitigation is an in-building learning plan,” Van Deuren wrote. “A plan that enables us to recognize when we’re at risk. A plan based on the data and recommendations from our local, state and federal health and education agencies. A plan that ensures that teachers and students are as ready as we can make them for truly flexible learning. A plan that staff and families have had the opportunity to discuss and help develop.”
Throughout its planning in the wake of COVID-19, the district encouraged parents, families and community members to join virtual meetings to obtain information about the district’s fall planning and get some clarification as to how the start of the 2020-2021 school year would look as a way to involve them in the decision making process.
“As I’ve said and will continue to say, our district goals have not changed: to do everything we can to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread, maximize in-building learning opportunities using flexible instructional models based on local COVID conditions and focus on accessibility for all students,” Van Deuren wrote. “The safety of our students and staff has been and remains our highest priority. We want to get students back to In-Building Learning, athletics, and co-curricular activities as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Currently, the combined total of staff and students at SASD is 3,339 individuals. As of Wednesday, SASD had a total of 23 reported active cases of COVID-19 amongst staff and students.