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Catholic schools announce plans to return to in-person learning for grades 3-12

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MADISON, Wis. — Starting Monday, eight Catholic schools will be allowed to return to in person learning for grades 3-12. This comes after the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a temporary injunctive relief against Public Health Madison & Dane County’s emergency order which requires third through 12 grade students to learn virtually.

St. Dennis Catholic School Principal Matt Beisser said he was pleasantly surprised to hear the court’s ruling.

“We are excited to be able to go on our level and make our decisions on what we feel is right for our school,” Beisser said.

Beisser said even though his school is allowed to bring all students back on Monday, he isn’t planning to bring all of them back at once.

“Just because we are able doesn’t mean we are going to jump at that,” he said.

He said on Tuesday, 3-5 graders will come back. The following Monday, 6-8 graders will be allowed back. Beisser explained that a phased approach will ensure everyone can safely return.

“And we are also going to adjust our whole schedule to have some time on Fridays where the kids are our early to allow mental health for the teachers, the parents and will allow for some learning at home.”

Beisser said students are required to wear masks, temperatures are taken before students enter the schools, parents are given a health checklist to go over at home before students come to school, students will not be moving in between classrooms, recess areas have specific zones where certain grades will be allowed to play, no visitors are allowed in the building, maintenance staff members have sprayed 90-day disinfecting spray and will be sanitizing the entire building each night. Students will also be required to wash or sanitize their hands every time they enter and leave a classroom.

On the other side of Madison at St. Ambrose Academy, the school’s Learning Services Specialist Angelina Hinline said all 3-12 graders will return Monday.

“We are so grateful to the Supreme Court,” Hineline said. “Inside all of our classrooms we are set up for live broadcasts for every class in our regular schedule so we can fully offer these two options for our families.”

Hineline said the Academy got a second rental agreement with a facility on Old Sauk Road so they could properly socially distance the students when they return. She said 60 high school students will be learning at their main campus and 50 junior high school students will be co-horted separately on the other site.

Hineline said out of all 66 families (111 students), only two are sticking with the virtual option next week. Kindergartners through second graders have already been learning in-person since school started last week.

Hineline said each classroom is equipped with cleaning supplies, socially distanced desks and teachers will be teaching from behind plexi glass. Students are required to wear masks. Hineline said with rigorous protocols in place and plenty of time to plan, they’re prepared to safely return Monday.

“This is our job,” she said. “We’ve got to help them. So we’ve got to be ready.”