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The DPI Releases Guidelines for School Re-Opening

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recently released “Education Forward” to support school districts as they make decisions about educational services this fall. The DPI collaborated with myriad professional education organizations and leaders to create the guidance. Districts are encouraged to consider this document alongside the Department of Health Services’ risk assessment checklist as they make plans in their unique local contexts.

The guidance breaks down governance, school operations, and technology into separate actions for district and school leaders as they review, prepare, and implement plans while keeping in communication with all stakeholders.

Information under instructional models for district consideration includes in-person, physically distanced, and virtual learning options with various scheduling scenarios for each. Districts are encouraged to incorporate feedback from stakeholders for which scenarios may work best.

The guidelines offer strategies for health and safety in school buildings based on what is currently known about COVID-19. Infection control and mitigation guidance includes communicating policies and plans for staff and students who are not feeling well to stay home, monitoring absences, and limiting all visitors in buildings. Guidance on face coverings, the potential for physical distancing in buildings, health checks, ready access to hygiene products and cleaning supplies, and considerations for school lunch are also covered.

The mental health of students and staff features prominently in the guidance with several resources to identify the impacts the pandemic has had on various groups and how to support them.

Guidance on how school libraries can be leveraged during the school year no matter what scenario districts choose focuses on materials, technology, and curriculum considerations.

Specific resources for teaching and learning related to special education, English learners, and students who are gifted and talented are available in the document for districts to consider as they plan for fall.

Finally, the alignment of facility management processes and infection mitigation guidelines for out-of-school time programs in school buildings is also included. Specifics for school-sponsored athletics are not included as part of the guidance, although districts are encouraged to establish policies based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Education Forward will be updated as needed.