By Shereen Siewert

The Mosinee School District will resume in-person classroom teaching this fall for all students, according to a June 18 statement by Superintendent David Muñoz.

The district will offer virtual options for students unable to attend in person due to COVID-19 medical concerns or necessities.

I believe it’s a core duty of the Mosinee School District to be available every day for all students in-person,” Muñoz said. “For our school district to best provide equal access and opportunities for all students, we plan to be in-person every day unless instructed to do otherwise by the health department.”

Schools across the nation are grappling with how to reopen safely as they begin planning for the 2020-21 school year, most of them – including Wausau School District – considering multiple scenarios. Options considered include remote learning, in-person instruction, or a hybrid approach, each of which could be adapted depending on how well their regions keep the virus contained over the summer.

The Mosinee School Board has already approved moving forward with in-person summer school beginning July 6.

Mosinee School Board member Kevin Hermening announced the board’s decision on summer school on social media

“We are delighted with the response to summer school with hundreds of students signed up for our in-person programs,” Muñoz said.

Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reopening schools was released last month.

Among the recommendations in the document: Schools should keep students in small cohorts, even shutting down cafeterias and having kids eat in classrooms to reduce interactions with other groups. The CDC also recommends students should sit every other row on school buses to avoid crowding.

Critics say the recommended changes will be difficult for schools that are facing a multi-pronged challenge of catching students up after inconsistent access to remote education, implementing new health protocols and adjusting to potentially significant state budget cuts resulting from a cratered economy.

Muñoz said the district has been incorporating CDC guidance and “fully intends to start the new school year on time” on Sept. 1.

We also look forward to celebrating the start of fall sports, prom and graduation 2020 in early August,” Muñoz said.

Polling suggests the public is wary of returning children to schools, and the dramatic changes they may see in their classrooms.

Fifty-nine percent of parent respondents to a May 26 USA Today/Ipsos poll said that, if their child’s school were to reopen and implement social distancing guidelines, they would be “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to pursue at-home learning, which could include home schooling or online education. About 7 in ten people polled said they would likely ask their child to wear a mask at school.

About the same number said it was likely their child would struggle with social distancing at school.

In the poll of K-12 teachers, 18 percent said it would be “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that they would not return to teaching if their schools reopened with social distancing guidelines. That includes a quarter of respondents over age 55.

The Mosinee School Board also approved an additional 20 hours a week of nursing services beyond the full time registered nurse already have on staff.

“This was a proactive decision to assist with the recommendations coming forward for reopening schools in-person,” Muñoz said, in his letter to parents. “The Mosinee School District has successfully reopened most of our facilities already including pool services, the fitness center, outside spaces, all main offices and inside gyms. We have finished deep cleaning all buildings and we’re ready for students. We will continue to make cleaning a top priority everyday.”

Muñoz said district officials have heard from many parents and community members who wish to return as soon as possible to regular classroom teaching, which is the plan going forward.