Students in the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District started the school year in different learning models, which created unique learning experiences. Most students in Pre-Kindergarten through grade six started in the hybrid learning model, which means in-person every day. Some families chose distance learning for their child in PreK-grade six to start the school year. All students in grades seven-12 started the school year in distance learning.

The JWP elementary staff are adjusting to instruction for students who are in-person and distance learning. While it will take some time to work through the details for new instructional strategies, I am extremely proud of the adjustments the staff have made. The JWP high school staff pivoted quickly to distance learning when the 14-day COVID-19 case count was above 30 and continuing to rise. Some classes are extremely difficult to teach in the distance learning model, and I credit our staff on being creative and flexible so students continue learning.

We continue to monitor our routines and procedures to ensure a safe and healthy school environment. The elementary students learning in-person have adjusted well to wearing face masks and some new procedures, such as frequent hand hygiene. One of the core tenants of school is student socialization, which makes physical distancing a challenge. School staff is continuing to work through strategies and education to make physical distancing more effective. Our high school students are looking forward to returning to school in the hybrid learning model as well as the return of activities and athletics. Families should continue performing health screening prior to sending their child(ren) to school.

We are closely monitoring the community spread of COVID-19 in Waseca County and within our school district ZIP codes. As of Thursday, Sept. 17, there appears to be a downward trend in the spread of COVID-19 in both the county and within our school district ZIP codes. We are hoping to see this downward trend into next week, which would give us confidence in bringing seven-12 students and staff back to the Hybrid Learning model. School district staff are currently preparing a phased approach to bringing back seven-12 grade students and staff. The phased transition will allow students and staff the opportunity to understand and practice the new health routines.

Thank you to the community for your support of our school staff and students. While the learning model may change, we will continue to hold fast to our promise to provide a supportive environment where unique learning experiences empower ALL for their chosen life adventure.

Kurt Stumpf is superintendent of Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Public Schools