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Green Bay Area Public Schools' board passes plan to bring students back to in-person learning

Posted at 10:25 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 00:04:52-05

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC26) -- Families within the Green Bay Area Public School system will have the opportunity to send their kids back to class in person this year.

"Alright... the notion passed five to one," said Board President Eric Vanden Heuvel after going forward with a new plan to get students back to school.

At Tuesday night's school board meeting, it was decided that students in grades 3K to 5 will be back in person four days a week around three weeks after staff members can receive the first dose of the Covid vaccine. Students in grades 6 and 9 will follow in cohorts.

All other grades will start a week after the others in a blended instructional model. The school board says it hopes its teachers will have access to a first vaccine dose at some point in the beginning of February.

Some parents say the past year has been a struggle for their kids. One mother even sent her oldest son to a new school district so he could be in person.

"You start to lose your kids and you can start to see their personality going away," in-person promoter Leah Bergstrom, a parent of three, said. "You can see them shrinking into a shell of themselves. You can see the grades slipping."

But other parents believe it could be better to keep their students in virtual learning for the foreseeable future. The school board's plan is to bring back all other grades on a similar part-time basis a week after the others.

"I feel like the community spread is an issue, and to me, stability is the most important thing," virtual learning advocate Bethe Lane, a parent of two, said. "And right now my kids are getting stability in virtual learning."

And those who are happy to be in person say they feel like they've been stuck.

"Some people feel they're basically holding the families of Green Bay Public Schools hostage," Bergstrom said. "It's really sad. It's a power play."

No matter what, both sides agree a safe return is the best option.

"Regardless of what side of the issue you're on, everybody wants kids back in school," Lane said. "It's just a matter of how and when are the right times to do it."

The school board says it will develop a model for a full return to virtual learning if cases pose a problem within the schools. If Brown County cases reach 1,000 for every 100,000 people per 14 days, an emergency board meeting will be called to determine another plan.