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Wausau schools prepare for in-person classes to begin Nov. 2

How schools are feeling just one week before students return to the classroom
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 9:21 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - In just one week, classes will be moving from online to in-person learning next Monday for Wausau schools. That creates challenges at all levels of school.

Students close together in a classroom will happen for a while.

“There’s so much that goes into it, it’s been a long four to five months,” Rob Phelps, the principal at Horace Mann Middle School, said.

But months of preparing schools to return to in-person learning have just one more week of preparation.

"How do we keep our students safe, how do we keep our staff safe,” Phelps explained.

“Ensuring safety for students and staff is our main priority,” said Colleen Berkhahm, the principal at Grant Elementary.

At the elementary level, limiting capacity in classes was a difficult task. But what that capacity number is can change.

It’s going to vary from building to building. Because dimensionally, even within my building, rooms can vary by square footage,” Berkhahm explained.

Some students were moved to different teachers. In a virtual setting, there were many more students in classes. Within a classroom, that number had to drop.

Letters would’ve gone out at the elementary buildings letting them know what the new teacher assignment was,” Berkhahm said.

Lunches are staggered in times, the path each student takes to lunch is different, and outside markers will be placed to remind students of social distancing.

It’s going to be stretch your hands out as far as you can and take one more step,” Berkhahm said.

At the middle school, students move around more. Cleaning often will be a priority when students leave a room.

"During that time, that classroom will be sanitized and cleaned ready for that next group,” Phelps said.

Capacities weren’t as much of an issue at Horace Mann, as about 40% of students will remain virtual, but no lockers will be used.

"They will be taking their jackets with them, they’ll be taking their backpacks with all their resources with them throughout the day,” Phelps explained.

Furniture also had to be removed from classrooms.

“One of our classrooms is just full of tables right now."

Both are prepared to adjust to unexpected complications that come up as students return to classrooms.

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