HUDSON — The Hudson School District is seeking a waiver of the minimum number of instruction hours from the Department of Public Instruction.

The request comes as the district is using distance-learning following the state-mandated school closures.

“We are planning on continuing instruction even during the closure,” Superintendent Nick Ouellette said.

While he expects the district will meet Wisconsin's required hours in a different format, a waiver would be there in case anything else unforeseen happens.

The department has been granting waivers across the state as COVID-19 has sent districts into unprecedented situations.

The school closure already has been extended beyond the initial date of April 6 to April 30, and Ouellette said they will receive an update in the next weeks if the closure will end before the school year does.

“If we have the option to come back, I think we want to come back just to have some level of closure on the year,” Ouellete said.

Grading scale

With the switch to distance learning, the district is considering implementing a hybrid pass/fail and letter grade system.

High school grading would default to pass/fail, but students could opt into the letter grade system. Middle school students would be pass/fail, and elementary pupils would have marks of either meeting expectations or developing.

The issue will be up for board approval Monday, April 13.

Ouellette said it’s the students choice, and gives options to those who may be having a tougher time with distance learning due to connectivity or parents who are unable to help.

“They have so many hurdles that they’re up against right now that it gives them some breathing room,” he said.

A passing grade would be a score of 59.5% or higher. A pass/fail would have no effect, positive or negative, on grade-point average.

“Continuing with grades through the end of the semester creates an unequal playing field for our kids,” he said.

Students would have an idea of what their grade -- through Family Access or by talking with their teacher -- before opting in, Chief Academic Officer Dave Grambow said.

Whether a student picks pass/fail or letter grade, Grabow said the goal is to keep the overall experience the same, so there shouldn’t be much effect on teachers. Most of the difference will be handled by the registrar at the end of the school year.

The district will send a general communication out about the system, and teachers will talk through the specifics with students, Grambow said.

Students would have until April 24 to decide, Grambow said. Board member Jamie Johnson asked if that date could be moved back to give families more time.

Board member Heather Logelin said they wouldn’t want to give students until the end of the semester, but agreed more time would allow them to figure out if they can make a letter grade system work or not.

Staff will review the deadline, and reach out to local districts and similar performing districts to see how they’re handling the issue.