Wauwatosa, Racine school districts ramp up in-person instruction

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WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) – Two school districts – Racine Unified and Wauwatosa – took steps to return to normal schooling this week.

RUSD began offering in-person learning for the first time since last spring on Monday, March 1. The district said 57 percent of students returned to in-person instruction while others remained with remote and virtual options.

“We debriefed yesterday afternoon and it’s just a lot of excitement, a lot of excitement, really just happy to have students back in the classroom,” Stacy Tapp, RUSD’s chief of communication & community engagement told CBS 58. “As we go we’ll tweak things that don’t go perfectly, but overall a really great start.”

Tapp said district staff in the 1B category are set to begin receiving vaccine shots on March 3 thanks to a collaboration with the city of Racine and health providers.

In Wauwatosa, the district moved ahead with the start of full-time in-person learning for middle and high school students. The district spent most of the year in a hybrid model with in-person learning two days a week and virtual learning three days a week.

“It gets me emotional because they were excited all weekend to start, they’re just thrilled,” Carolyn Neikirk sad in an interview. Neikirk has children who attend Wauwatosa West High School and Whitman Middle School in the district. “I think this is the happiest day they’ve had in a long time, to see their friends and get back to school and maybe have a little bit more of a normal life.”

If there’s an outbreak in the district, officials will be able to move to virtual instruction without board approval.

Other parents also said they and their children were excited to return, but there were also concerns about loss of progress in their education.

“Obviously a lot of us are concerned about the after effects with having school two days a week and three days virtual,” Cindy Mich, a Wauwatosa West parent, said. “There’s a lot that’s got to be caught up on, even though they’re back in now.”

Those concerns are also echoed by parents in Racine.

“The question remains, how is the online learning going, what is their development,” Eric VanDyke said. Van Dyke said his daughter was excited to return to school this week after months of virtual instruction. His son was a RUSD student but left the district for a private school. VanDyke noticed a change in demeanor in his son and hopes the district can learn more about where students stand with their progress.

Racine Educators United sent CBS 58 this statement regarding the return to in-person instruction:

“While educators are happy to welcome our students back to our classrooms, in-person and remote teaching and learning at the same time has presented new challenges. Teachers and Educational Assistants will continue to go above and beyond to create engaging learning environments for students as we have from the beginning of this pandemic. We continue to be concerned about the safety of both ourselves and our students and their families. We are committed to continued collaboration with the District to assure the safest environment possible.”

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