Grafton classes resume with virtual learning

District uses online technology in alternative approach to education while school buildings remain shuttered
Ozaukee Press Staff

Although all schools in Ozaukee County were closed last Friday due to the coronavirus pandemic, students and staff in the Grafton School District resumed classes through virtual learning this week.

“Starting Tuesday, we will be the first district in Ozaukee County to have learning occur,” Supt. Jeff Nelson said during Monday’s School Board meeting.

“The board’s support of our one-to-one (Google Chromebook) initiative has really allowed us to be using technology effectively throughout the year and has put us in a spot to be continuing to provide instruction.”

Grafton and other districts were told to close for four weeks until April 13. Classes were initially going to resume April 14 after spring break.

Nelson said virtual learning began Tuesday for students in sixth through 12th grades and on Wednesday for younger students. Last year, the district purchased 400 laptops for its students as part of its one-to-one device initiative.

Teachers will be surveyed this Friday to see how they can improve their strategies for virtual learning, which provides online instruction remotely.

Nelson said attendance will be taken when students log in to their devices.

For families who don’t have access to high-speed internet, the district will provide hotspots.

Five days of food will be provided to students every Tuesday morning for pick up at Grafton High School. If families qualify, they may receive the meals free or at a reduced price. 

“We have a concern for families that are going to need food,” Nelson said. “So far, we have 139 families coming in.”

Teachers began working remotely Tuesday because all classrooms and public spaces are now in the process of being sanitized. Nelson said administrators may continue working in the buildings. 

“We will begin doing a deep clean and sanitizing all of our classrooms, and we have a labeling system to mark the room as clean to ensure someone doesn’t enter it and potentially contaminate the area,” Nelson said.  

Nelson said the district has purchased several spraying machines that will be used by cleaning staff at each school by March 23. 

Nelson said he has been in communication  with other area school districts and the Washington Ozaukee and North Shore health departments.

“We have a district-preparedness plan in place to deal with potential pandemics. The two words I’ve used most recently with our staff is fluid and flexibility,” Nelson said.

Nelson said hourly employees will receive compensation during the closure.

Village Administrator Jesse Thyes said he is working with police and fire departments to revise their emergency preparedness protocols. He is also working with department heads in the event an employee becomes sick.

“We want to continue operations as smoothly as we can,” he said. “We’re taking measures throughout all village buildings, to make sure employees are cleaning their work stations and washing their hands. We also have been having conversations with Aurora.”

For employees who become sick, Thyes said they can request paid time off.

Last week, the village offered tips and links on its website with information about the pandemic.

Thyes is also encouraging residents to consider absentee voting for the April 7 primary election.  

This week, town officials decided to close the Town Hall office to the public. 



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