HUDSON -- Hudson students will be returning to school this fall, as the Hudson School Board approved its reopening plan Monday, July 20.

The blueprint is designed to provide face-to-face instruction while mitigating risks, though Superintendent Nick Ouellette said it’s impossible to guarantee a completely COVID-19-free environment.

“This is the recommended plan, as of today,” Ouellette said, emphasizing that things could change in the fluid situation of the pandemic.

A full copy of the blueprint is available on the school’s website. Some of the main points include:

Masks

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Everyone in the building will be required to wear face masks or coverings, except when social distancing is possible.

“It’s not about the wearer not catching something,a s much as it is about the wearer not spreading something,” Ouellette said.

If a student chooses not to wear a mask, they can participate in the distance learning option the school is providing.

“If you’d like the face to face options and you’d like to be in our building for school, this is the expectation,” Ouellette said.

Exceptions may be made for medical conditions or a religious exemption. Board member Bruce Hanson said he’s afraid there’s going to be a lot of doctor’s notes. Ouellette said the administration will bring back a full face mask policy to the school board.

Physical distancing

Students and staff will be six feet apart whenever possible in the buildings. Classrooms are being rearranged to allow students to spread out.

If physical distancing isn’t available in a classroom, Chief Academic Officer Dave Grambow said the district will look into other things such as clear plastic barriers.

Screening

The school district will not be taking temperatures of everyone that enters the building. Families and staff will be expected to self-screen.

“We would like parents to constantly be vigilant on that before they put them on a school bus for an hour and then they come to our buildings,” Ouellette said.

Staff will be trained on identifying symptoms.

Distance learning

For those who chose not to attend in-person schooling, or are directed not to by a public health official, individual distance learning will be available.

This would not be virtual learning, Grambow said. Instead it is synchronous, real-time learning. A plan would be developed with administration, teacher leaders and families to best fit the needs of the student.

A hybrid option could be available for families who are uncomfortable with only certain aspects of returning to school.

This option is also available for a student who becomes infected with COVID-19, but is still well enough to participate.

Confirmed cases

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the district will be communicated to the entire building in each case. At the elementary level, the classroom will be identified, at the middle school level the house will be identified, and at the high school level the grade will be identified.

The district will not release the names of students infected.

Any contact tracing will be done by the county per its policies, not by the district.

Ouellette said there is not a single data point that would decide when the district or an individual school might shut down. That will be an ongoing discussion with county public health, he said.

If a classroom, grade level, school, or the whole district closes due to COVID-19, affected students will take part in virtual learning.

This will not be what was implemented in the spring, Grambow, as that was a last-minute, emergency plan.

Virtual learning would provide mainly real-time, daily instruction with teachers and students online at the same time. The schedule would follow the typical school day for the most part, Gramobw said.

Attendance would be taken, and typical assessment done as much as possible.

Transportation

Students, drivers and bus aides will all be required to wear masks on the bus. Assigned seating will be implemented, and family members will be grouped together.

If students do not follow the rules, the district will focus first on education, but the student could lose the ability to ride the bus.

Ouellette said he anticipates ridership to drop up to 60%.

School meals

Limited options will be available for school meals this year.

All cafeterias will operate at 50% capacity to allow for more distancing. Lunch time at the elementary school will be extended.

What’s undecided

How athletics will work is still to be determined. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association will be weighing in soon, Ouellette said.

Recess is also another point that is still to be determined.