The Tomah School Board Monday discussed plans for resuming in-person instruction one day after parents were sent a letter about a possible COVID-19 case at the district’s year-round elementary school.
Superintendent Dr. Charles Hanson informed parents Sunday that “a suspect or confirmed case of a student with COVID-19 has been reported to the district.”
Hanson wrote that the student was tested due to the child’s proximity to a person who is positive and symptomatic and that test results are pending.
The letter didn’t mention a specific school building, but Lemonweir Elementary School is the only Tomah school building where classes are being held. The year-round K-5 school began classes July 15.
Hanson said parents were being notified “out of an abundance of caution.” He said there was no reason for parents to withdraw their children from school.
“If you were not contacted personally by the Monroe County Health Department, our hope is you would continue to send your child to school to continue the learning process,” Hanson wrote.
The school board discussed the opening of Lemonweir, but the potential COVID-19 case wasn’t mentioned. Lemonweir Principal Nicki Pope described the first few days of class as a “whirlwind” but said students are adjusting to a different classroom routine dictated by the virus.
“Students have been great at picking up on the new routine,” Pope said. “We’re figuring it out as we’re going.”
School district business manager Greg Gaarder said the school day is structured to minimize the mixing of students. Lemonweir students are sent directly to their classrooms when they arrive in the morning, desks are arranged farther apart, recess periods are staggered and lunch is served in classrooms.
Gaarder said the experience at Lemonweir will guide how other school buildings with a traditional calendar will operate.
“I couldn’t be more proud of a group of (Lemonweir) staff members who are doing something historic,” he said. “We’ve got to get this right if we’re to stand any chance to come on Sept. 1.”
Classes at Lemonweir are meeting five days a week. Parents have the option of keeping their children at home and receiving instruction online. Gaarder said 21 percent of Lemonweir parents are taking the virtual option.
Pope says most parents want their children back in the classroom.
“The families have been outstanding — they really want their students in the building,” Pope said. “They’ve been very receptive. They’re trusting their children to be in our care.”
The board also discussed schedules for the middle school and high school. Students would split the first four days of the school week with two days of in-person classes and two days of virtual instruction. Friday would be an “anchor day” to address students who need additional help.