Some out-of-state families are enrolling their kids in Wisconsin schools so they can go to in-person classes

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LAKE GENEVA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A handful of out-of-state families are enrolling their children in schools across the Wisconsin border, so their kids can attend in-person classes.

Reek School is seeing a number of out-of-state families enroll for in-person classes, but in order for kids to go to school in Wisconsin, their parent or guardian must be a property owner.

“Some people have a lake home or a second home in Wisconsin so they would qualify,” said Samantha Polek, District Administrator for Linn Joint 6 School District and Principal of Reek School.

Polek says Walworth, Lake Geneva and Elkhorn area schools are all offering an in-person or virtual option.

“So I think that’s attractive to some people from Illinois because some districts from Illinois are only offering the online option right now,” said Polek.

Polek says so far five families have enrolled in her school, three from Illinois and two from New York.

“My guess is for the New York residents they’re coming from a very urban, more densely populated area, and Lake Geneva is much more rural and open,” she added.

The Wisconsin Education Association Council’s Region 7, which represents the Lake Geneva area, says their teachers are not happy about this.

“The teachers I work with consider it probably very unfortunate,” said Ted Kraig, Regional Director for WEAC Region 7.

Kraig says it’s concerning.

“It’s very concerning that in Wisconsin, where we have surging coronavirus levels, that people would want to send their kids in person to school when a lot of the science is suggesting we should be a lot more careful than that,” Kraig added.

Reek School goes from kindergarten through 8th grade, a maximum of 20 students are allowed per classroom for the elementary school and 25 is the maximum for middle school classrooms.

“For some students it was difficult to do the academics without further instruction and explanation and frankly motivation from teachers,” said Polek.

Polek says a majority of the families have opted for in-person learning.

“Not very many families at this point have requested the online virtual instruction, but again, it’s still early,” she said.

“They want to see their kids and be in class, but it’s not like virtual learning in March, April and May was a total failure. A lot of kids continued to get a good education,” said Kraig.

With a shortage of teachers already, Kraig says schools need to be extremely careful and listen to the guidelines of public health officials.

“My guess is those people should really re-think it because if schools open willy-nilly, the schools in Lake Geneva are not going to be open very long,” Kraig added.

Polek says Reek School has already implemented a number of safety measures before the school year begins. All desks have been set six feet apart, masks are required and social distancing markers have been set up in the hallway.  

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