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Columbus School District plays it safe with long virtual learning sessions starting next week
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Columbus School District plays it safe with long virtual learning sessions starting next week

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COLUMBUS – Students in Columbus School District will not return to in-person learning after being off Nov. 26 and 27 until Jan. 18 as the district joins others in the area concerned about gathering and travel over the holidays bringing more students back into the schools with COVID-19.

Columbus is the latest school to make updates to its calendar around the holiday season. Dodgeland and Horicon school districts took off for the entire week of Thanksgiving while Beaver Dam Unified School District decided to go virtual the week following the holiday. Columbus’ neighboring school district Fall River is currently virtual until after the Thanksgiving break after a staff member tested positive with COVID.

“The district has used a three-part rubric/metric that provides data for state/county data for community spread, regional/community disease burden and district virus impact,” Columbus Superintendent Annette Deuman said. “While the numbers state and county spread as well as regional impact have been high to very high, recently the burden to our community and the impact on our staff and families has increased. Additionally, many will be looking to travel or gather in groups outside of their core family during the holidays. Moving to the virtual learning environment during this time will proactively keep our students and staff healthy and safe.”

The students will begin virtual learning on Nov. 30.

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As of last week, Columbus had 28 students or staff members diagnosed with COVID which led to 265 students being quarantined, according to the district’s COVID dashboard.

Deuman said in a letter to families that Prairie Ridge Hospital in Columbus as well as the other hospitals in Columbia County were out of beds.

“The disease burden on our community is very high,” Deuman said. “As a school district, we cannot and will not add to this burden. At the beginning of the school year, we never imagined we would have had the opportunity to teach our students for eleven weeks in-person. All along the safety and health of our students and staff has been our top priority. With this increased risk over the holidays, we are asking families to do what they can to contribute positively to our ability to sustain virtual learning opportunities for students. Following the Thanksgiving holiday, we are further asking families to support their children and keep a close eye on their health and the health of family members.”

Deuman said that the district has been in a blended cohort model since the beginning of the school year.

“All grade levels have experienced virtual learning at least one day a week, but most have had three days of virtual learning each week,” Deuman said. “Our staff have worked extremely hard to improve upon synchronous instruction experiences for our students, engaging children in virtual face to face daily lessons with their teachers and providing timely feedback for growth and improvement.”

Follow Terri Pederson on Twitter @tlp53916 or contact her at 920-356-6760.

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