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De Pere schools stay virtual, West De Pere returns to in-person next week

De Pere High School
Posted at 10:21 PM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 23:32:33-04

DE PERE (NBC26) — Maria Miller, a senior at West De Pere High School, remembers the first day of school in September: the hallways were crowded because the time between classes wasn't staggered.

“I remember on the first day of school I was getting so overwhelmed by the amount of people that I was almost on the verge of crying because I just was getting pushed through the hallways and there were just these big clumps," she said. “It’s high school and you can’t really control things like that.”

West De Pere High School students have been learning virtually for the past two weeks, due to COVID-19 cases surging. The district told parents this week that they will return to in-person learning on Monday. Many parents had been signing a petition to pressure the district into making the switch, which frustrated Miller.

“There hasn’t been a single ounce of student input in any of the decisions," said Miller. "We’re the ones who are going back.”

Hannah Bauer, also a senior at West De Pere High School, says she doesn't trust her peers to keep their masks on and social distance.

“I know some of the kids might act really responsible in front of their parents," she said. "But they aren’t at school.”

While West De Pere high school returns to in-person learning next week, on the other side of the river, the Unified District of De Pere will continue virtual learning until at least November sixth.

“Every school district is trying to do the best with the information that they deem to be important and have at hand," said Benjamin Villarruel, superintendent of the Unified School District of De Pere.

Jenni Fuss, school board president of the West De Pere School District, says returning in-person is what families want.

“Definitely a difficult decision to make as you can imagine," said Fuss. "bBut we believe that it’s the best decision for the students of West De Pere.”

The way in-person learning was last month, it's not worth it to return, said Miller.

“It feels a lot more prison-like in structure," she said. "All of the fun was sucked out of school.”