NOSD asks state for waiver on instruction time

Local district joins others in request to allow grade levels to advance during shortened year
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Northern Ozaukee School District has joined other school districts in Wisconsin by applying for an instructional-time waiver from the state Department of Public Instruction in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. Tony Evers shuttered schools in mid-March. Since then, NOSD has conducted classes virtually with students at home. At about the same time, DPI relaxed rules for granting instruction-time waivers to districts due to difficulty documenting the time students spend on their subjects while at home away from teachers.

School districts are required to provide a minimum number of instructional hours for students each year depending on their grade level.

Students in kindergarten must annually receive at least 437 hours of instruction. Those in first through sixth grades must have at least 1,050 hours, and middle and high school students must receive at least 1,137.

“We are proud of the efforts of our students, staff and families that have made it possible to continue a high level of education during this challenging time,” NOSD Supt. Dave Karrels said.

“While we will be meeting instructional minutes through maintaining our regular calendar, we will also be approving the instructional waiver per the recommendation for schools in our state.”

The Random Lake School District has not applied for the waiver given its ability to track attendance thanks to the district’s previous experience in virtual learning, Supt. Mike Trimberger said.

“With our virtual learning, it looks like we’re in a good place,” he said. “Our attendance has been fantastic, averaging 92% to 95%. One of our buildings has hit 100%.”

Both districts will continue to apply letter grades to student work and not go to a pass-fail system, as some Wisconsin districts have done.

“We are continuing to grade and assess students while making sure that the mandated school closures do not negatively affect overall grades,” Karrels said.

“We’re still holding out high expectations on grades,” Trimberger said.

Karrels had said an in-person commencement will be held for Ozaukee High School seniors, even if it’s moved into late summer.

Trimberger said a decision hasn’t been made for Random Lake High and that officials are preparing to survey students, parents and staff.

“We want to hear from our community,” he said. “We want our students and parents to give us as much feedback as possible.”

Trimberger said there may be a “hybrid” graduation that could involve a combination of virtual and in-person activities, including a parade. He didn’t rule out a traditional commencement, however.



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