Assembly Ed Committee meets

The Assembly Education Committee held a hearing on the DPI guidelines for reopening schools, accepting testimony only from invited guests, including DPI staff, administrators and school board representatives.

While the voices of teachers and education support professionals were shut out by the Republican-majority committee, WEAC collaborated with the DPI and other groups to develop the DPI guidance. WEAC’s recommendations are outlined in the Safe Return to School Platform.

Four Republicans on the education committee, including Chairman Jeremy Thiesfeldt, previously signed onto a letter by Wisconsin state legislators indicating they are against additional federal funding for Wisconsin Public Schools to help students safely return to school. In total, 43 lawmakers signed that letter, making it imperative that educators continue to contact U.S. Senators in support of the HEROES Act.

During the hearing, lawmakers asked about what returning to school safely might look like amid the coronavirus pandemic, from the future of fall sports to the different types of instruction that may be necessary as COVID-19 continues to impact communities. Questions focused on how third-Friday enrollments could be counted, knowing that tracking attendance this spring presented a barrier, safe transportation, and the challenges of feeding students safely if and when they return to school.

Jennifer Kammerud, Senior Policy Advisor DPI, said schools must be prepared to implement alternative scenarios when looking ahead at plans to return to class. She added there are many unanswered questions on which the DPI is still working to define solutions.

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