October 8, 2020
Dear WSBVI Families:
The Wisconsin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired made the difficult decision to continue to offer virtual instruction through the second quarter, which ends January 29, 2021. Once again, this was a very hard decision to make since we want our schools open fully for in‐person instruction. However, the safety of our students, staff and families must continue to be our first priority. In the end, the sobering reality of current Covid‐19 numbers and projections for the upcoming winter made reopening for in‐person instruction unsafe at this time.
We surveyed parents and staff again in September and we realize no choice will be 100 percent supported. We understand that some of you are disappointed and others relieved. A decision about reopening for the third quarter will be made in December.
Live instruction will continue four days a week, Mondays through Thursdays. On the fifth day, students will work independently and/or online and staff will use the time for planning and preparation.
Staff from the Wisconsin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (WSBVI) have continued to meet regularly during first quarter to talk about reopening plans for the second quarter of the 2020‐21 school year. Staff join in meetings with Walworth/Rock County Health Departments. Staff have met with other staff from the Department of Public Instruction, including school nursing, school safety, legal services and human resources. We have listened to advice from local, state and national health experts.
We want to remind you of some of the other things we looked at in making this decision:
- Local school districts need to look at only their own county’s numbers in making a decision about reopening. WSBVI, on the other hand, must look at the state’s numbers as a whole. We continue to be concerned about the risk for our students and families when bringing students together from all over the state.
- Social distancing and the possibility of more staff absences mean we need more staff in classes, dorms and the health rooms.
- If a student shows any signs of Covid‐19, we will have to assume the student has Covid‐ 19. It could take families four or more hours to pick the student up.
- Some of the activities outside of class that our students like to do, such as extra‐curricular and athletic events, social activities and clubs, are not possible.
We know that virtual learning can be hard for students and their families. We are proud of what we have done together and we assure you we will continue to work with you to ensure that your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE), is implemented, and effective supports are in place.
We, too, want to return to face‐to‐face learning as soon as it is safely possible. We have a great school and we are very eager to have everyone back together on campus. We know that in‐ person instruction is the best way for your child to learn and it is what we will continue to work toward.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Julie Piper, WSBVI Principal at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 608‐758‐6120.
Dan Wenzel, WCBVI Director at: email@example.com or 608‐758‐4925. Thank you for your understanding and support during this challenging time. Sincerely,
Dan Wenzel, Director
Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired 1700 W. State Street
Janesville, WI 53546