July 29, 2020
Dear Wisconsin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (WSBVI) families:
The WSBVI has made the decision to offer virtual instruction four days a week, Mondays
through Thursdays through the first quarter, which ends October 30. On the fifth day, students
will work independently and/or online and staff will use the time for planning and preparation.
This is very important to make sure the school is ready to switch to some type of in-person
learning when area health officials support that move.
This was a very hard decision to make and we want our schools open. However, the safety of
our students, staff and families is and must be our first priority. We realize no choice would be
100 percent supported by families and staff. We know this decision will be disappointing to
some of you and a relief to others.
Staff from the Wisconsin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (WSBVI)/Wisconsin School
for the Deaf (WSD) have been meeting every week to talk about reopening plans for the 2020-
21 school year. Staff have also joined in meetings that the Walworth/Rock County Health
Departments are holding with other school superintendents. Staff have met with other staff
from the Department of Public Instruction, including school nursing, school safety, legal services
and human resources. Staff have asked families what they think about reopening and have
followed up with phone calls in some cases. WSD/WSBVI staff have had chances to share their
questions and concerns. We have listened to advice from local, state and national health
We want you to know 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, and numbers in some counties are not good. We were concerned about the risk for our students and your families and communities when bringing students together from all over the state.
- Social distancing and the possibility of more staff absences will mean we need more staff in classes, dorms and the health rooms.
- If a student shows any signs of Covid, we will have to assume the student has Covid. The student would be taken care of apart from other students until a family member picks them up. In a school district, that can happen very quickly. In the case of our school, it could be four or more hours. In the past, if families have been unable to pick up their child, staff have driven the student home, which is very difficult to do now.
- Some of the activities outside of class that our students like to do, such as extracurricular and athletic events, social activities and clubs, will not be possible.
Decisions about re-opening will be made for each quarter. This will give students, families and
staff some idea of what school will look like each quarter. If circumstances change, we may be
able to open school in person earlier. We will look at available information and continue to talk
with local health experts over the first weeks of school.
We know that virtual learning can be hard for students and for families. We are proud of what
our staff was able to do in such a short time when schools were closed last spring. However, we
want to assure you that we will do even better this school year. We will work with you to
ensure that your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed to provide a free
appropriate public education (FAPE), is implemented, and effective supports are in place.
We will provide:
- Instruction and learning of new content;
- Individualized learning opportunities for students;
- Supports in place to improve student participation and learning;
- Student and family engagement, relationship-building, and explicit instruction on virtual tools and platform use.
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 inperson instruction is the best way for your child to learn and it is what we will continue to work
We will be in touch with you very soon if your child’s IEP needs to be reviewed because of this
decision. In the meantime, 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.
Dan Wenzel, Director
Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1700 W. State Street
Janesville, WI 53546