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Schools plan to reopen amid a public health crisis

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MADISON (WKOW) -- One City Schools in Madison is hoping students and teachers will be in the classroom come the fall, but they are preparing for whatever comes their way with the public health crisis.

"Safety is number one," One City Schools Principal Faren D'Abell said. "So, we are not going to bring too many students into an area that could create the next hotbed."

The public charter school is working with families to decide on what type of instruction is most comfortable. They have three plans in place: in-person instruction, virtual instruction, or a hybrid approach.

"We're actually preparing for some of our families saying, 'hey we're not comfortable coming back period,' so we can serve them virtually," One City Schools CEO Kaleem Caire said.

"All our families are asking basically the same question that families are asking across the country, how safe will the schools be?" Marilyn Ruffin, One City Schools Director of Family and Community Initiatives, said.

In-person learning is possible and keeping students socially distanced in small groups is likely.

"Cohorts, that we don't mix to each other," One City Schools Nurse Isabel Parea said. "We can then track if there is some kind of spread, and then we can act before it becomes an outbreak."

Teachers are also deciding if the risk is too high for in-person instruction.

"Certainly we are putting ourselves at risk, we acknowledge that, but this is what we want to do, so this is who we are, and that's part of the deal," One City Schools Pre-School Teacher Lisa Cutting said.

They are also creating a new instruction plan to make up for lost time.

"Kids have been out of school five and a half months, and it takes 60-90 days to develop new habits, so not only will we be worrying about and addressing kids academic deficiencies from where they should be, we'll be dealing with helping kids develop new habits too. So just how we start school has to be a little different," Caire said.

Like many schools, a team is working hard and adapting every day in the hope that the best plan is in place come September 1.

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Karley Marotta

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