School District of Tomahawk works toward fall reopening as DPI issues ‘Education Forward’
Reynolds: Guidance from DPI, Health Department will influence plans
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
TOMAHAWK – School District of Tomahawk Administrator Terry Reynolds said on Wednesday, June 24 the district is “in the process of creating plans for the fall reopening” and the district hopes to have “multiple” plans by the end of July.
The district’s proposals for opening classrooms to students and staff later this year will be influenced by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI)’s “Education Forward,” a document providing guidance to schools regarding safely reopening, Reynolds explained. Direction from the Lincoln County Health Department will also “influence any plan that is finalized.”
“Like all other districts, there will be flexibility in moving from one plan to the next, due to the COVID-19 information at the time,” Reynolds added.
Reynolds previously said an “option to participate virtually will also be a part of any plan developed.”
DPI issues ‘Education Forward’
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on Monday, June 22 issued “Education Forward,” “a guidance document for Wisconsin district and school leaders to use as they plan for a safe, efficient, and equitable return to school for the 2020-21 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Education Forward “provides health information, resources, and possible action steps aligned to closing out the current school year and preparing for and implementing provisions in the next school year,” DPI said in a release.
DPI specialists from content areas across the department developed Education Forward in close collaboration with officials from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and education stakeholders throughout the state, according to DPI.
“The primary consideration of all involved was the health and safety of students and staff,” DPI said.
DPI called the document a “starting point as schools consider the decisions they need to make and the conversations they need to have with local health authorities and their communities,” noting it includes “information on infection control and mitigation, lays out sample learning scenarios, and provides specific considerations for special education students, English language learning students, gifted and talented students, school libraries, teaching and learning staff, school safety/mental health, and out-of school time programs.”
Resources such as a risk assessment tool and a school nurse toolkit are also included.
DPI noted the document will be “fluid” and “regularly updated in consultation with education stakeholders and the DHS to provide new information and address changing conditions to support school operations and the learning environment.”
“The next school year will likely be different from the learning environment students and teachers have grown accustomed to,” State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor stated in the release. “Education Forward is meant to provide information for educators and school officials as they make decisions regarding their school operations to keep all students and staff safe while learning.”
“COVID-19 remains highly contagious, and people in Wisconsin are still at risk,” DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said. “We want to keep Wisconsin’s students and school staff as safe and healthy as possible. This guidance is designed to be used in consultation with local and tribal health departments, and we encourage school districts to work with them closely to make the best decisions for their communities.”