When the City of Watertown decided late Wednesday to return to Phase One of its COVID-19 management program, the Watertown Unified School Board called for a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday to discuss its transition to face-to-face learning.

“We want to assure all of our families that we will continue to monitor our local data, and we will continue to be in communication with the Watertown Health Department regarding this change in local status, but the district is planning to continue our transition on Oct. 5 to the blended instructional model,” said Watertown Unified Superintendent of Schools Cassandra Schug.

She said her administration will monitor local health data to help ensure that the school district is in the appropriate instructional model. Schug said the data includes the city’s local metrics and the city’s reopening plan as it compares to the school district’s attendance data. Individuals can view the city reopening plan at https://www.ci.watertown.wi.us/covid-19_community_updates/index.php

She said the school board and administration in cooperation with the Watertown Health Department will monitor all of this data closely to ensure that the district’s schools are as safe as possible for students and staff.

“I know that you count on the WUSD to keep our children safe, and please know that safety is always our number one priority in the Watertown Unified School District,” Schug said. “We will be continuing to work closely with the Watertown Health Department and monitoring all of our local data as we work to successfully transition our students back to in-person instruction safely. Please reach out to your building principal, any other administrator, or directly to me if there is any way in which we can support you at this time or provide answers to any questions you may have.”

The board voted this past summer to have students back in the schools Oct. 5 for blended learning, and then voted Monday to bring back all of the district’s students back Oct. 12 for face-to-face learning.

The blended learning model combines a face-to-face classroom experience with asynchronous learning. Students in the blended learning model would attend school in one of two cohort groups attending school in-person on Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday. In the blended model, Wednesdays will be virtual learning for both cohorts. In the blended learning model, approximately one-half of the student population attends school, while the other half of the student population is engaged in at-home learning. The blended learning model reduces the number of students in the school, increasing the likelihood that social distance guidelines can be followed.

If families want to have their children to continue learning virtually, they can. Parents can also opt for “virtual plus,” which, according to the Watertown Unified School District, provides an alternative to blended/face-to-face and eCampus options. Students, who wish to remain at home and continue to be part of their existing classes, can do so with this option. Students will remain in their current classes and follow the Watertown High School bell schedule. This model allows students at the secondary level to seamlessly shift between blended, face-to-face and virtual platforms by remaining with their current classes and teachers. Interested parents can communicate their choice to the high school’s assistant principals.

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