Going back to school during a pandemic has its challenges, with many schools offering in-person or virtual education. The Cambria-Friesland School District is providing both those options with a bit of a twist — some in-person learning will take place outdoors.
The district’s reopening plan was approved Tuesday through unanimous vote by the board of education. Schools will open with a five day per week, face-to-face model for families who want the traditional format. Those who don’t wish to return to a physical classroom have the choice of signing up for online learning as contracted through Edgenuity (grades K-5) and Odysseyware (grades 6-12).
District Administrator Timothy Raymond said the plan was developed over the past few months by a 31-member team that included the district physician, school nurse, parents, staff, administration, community and board members. Details were reviewed by the Columbia County Health & Human Services Department.
Raymond noted that having medical professionals joining discussions proved to be beneficial as they were looked to for guidance; in addition to the district physician and school nurse, the school board president is a registered nurse and a parent on the team is a certified nurse practitioner.
Cambria-Friesland educates approximately 400 students each year and all families were surveyed about their thoughts on returning to school.
“We received a very strong number of responses,” said Raymond. “It was literally the same voices that we’re hearing at the state and national level, divided on how things should move forward.”
The planning team focused on maintaining the integrity of education in the safest manner possible.
“Health and safety of students and staff is No. 1 thing we looked at, continuity of learning came second and the needs of the student was the core,” he said.
Students who choose the virtual option will be allowed to participate in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. The district is working to build an infrastructure to ensure monitoring of students’ academic, emotional and social well-being.
Raymond called the reopening plan one of change, adaptability and flexibility.
“One of the things that we’ve done is that with some donations from local businesses we’re setting up outdoor learning areas,” he said. “We have a 20x60 tent coming in that we’re going to be using and we’ve got three natural shelters. We really believe that by utilizing the outdoors for the first two months we’re going to be at a good place.”
The district is holding a virtual learning presentation along with a question and answer session Monday. The K-5 presentation begins at 6 p.m. and the grades 6-12 presentation is at 7 p.m. Both sessions may be attended in person in the Cambria-Friesland School District Library or virtually via Zoom. The deadline for choosing a learning option is Aug. 17. More information can be found at cf.k12.wi.us.
Follow Kelly Simon on Twitter @KSchmidSimon or contact her at 920-356-6757.
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