MTSD to start school year virtually


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Homestead High School will now follow scenario C from the Responsible Return Operating Plan.

On Monday, Aug. 17, the Mequon-Thiensville School District (MTSD) Board of Education held a monthly regular business meeting. On the agenda was the 2020-2021 School Year Responsible Return Plan Version 2. The vote to go ahead with the proposed plan was unanimous and placed the Mequon Thiensville area in scenario D, an all-virtual return to school on Sept. 1.

On Aug. 5, MTSD sent out a potential Responsible Return Version 1 to parents and students in the district explaining the possible scenarios for returning to school. The four scenarios (A, B, C, D) were based on health department recommendations, local data on confirmed cases of COVID-19, percent of staff members available and numerous other factors.

By Aug. 17 a Responsible Return Version 2, an updated plan from Version 1 which accommodated Wisconsin’s new mask mandate, was released to the public with the same four scenarios. Each scenario is tailored to the infection rate and risk/burden of COVID-19 in the Mequon Thiensville area.

Scenario A calls for all students to be back on campus for learning with no physical distancing or restrictions. According to the Responsible Return Version 2 scenario A, “will occur when activity level is low and positive test rate is low for two consecutive weeks in MTSD ZIP codes [of 53092 and 53097].”

Scenario B calls for, “unique scheduling and mitigation procedures will be implemented, focusing on maximum physical distancing between individuals.” “Instructional scenario B will occur when activity level is low or medium and positive test rate is low or medium for two consecutive weeks in MTSD ZIP codes.” As of Aug. 17, the case numbers in MTSD do not suit scenario B.

Scenario C happens when, “activity level is medium and positive test rate is medium for two consecutive weeks in MTSD ZIP codes.” On Aug. 5, when the Responsible Return Version 2 plan was released, the number of cases in MTSD suited scenario C. The infection rate had to stay below 6% for scenario C to be implemented. In scenario C, students have the option to learn virtually or on campus with maximum physical distancing and minimal physical contacts.

Scenario D implements a completely virtual scenario for all students due to high activity levels and high positive test rates. As of Aug. 17, the scheduled date of the Board of Education meeting, MTSD had high activity rates and high positive test rates, therefore placing them in scenario D for at least the next two weeks.

The meeting, which lasted for almost four hours and had almost 300 participants, discussed everything on the agenda which is accessible to the public. By the conclusion of the meeting, the Board of Education voted unanimously to move forward with the Responsible Return plan. Due to the numbers at this time, students should expect to return to school virtually until infection rates decline and the transition to scenario C can be evaluated.

District teachers are scheduled to report to campuses on Aug. 24 for annual inservice to begin the 2020-2021 school year.