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GOP lawmakers urge in-person school this fall; Dem criticizes letter to school districts

The Brillion News

MADISON - A letter signed by a host of Republican legislators is calling for local school districts to try to have in-person, on-campus instruction as the 2020-2021 school year begins in the fall.

Among the lawmakers signing the letter - sent to unspecified school superintendents and dated July 29 - were Rep. Jim Steineke of Kaukauna, Rep. Shae Sortwell of Gibson (Manitowoc County), Rep. Ron Tusler of Harrison and Rep. Paul Tittl of Manitowoc.

"There is nearly universal agreement among educators that most students are taught more effectively in a classroom," the letter said. "In a virtual setting, it is often impossible to provide adequate oversight of student engagement and the give additional assistance to those who are struggling."

The letter also suggests the districts that opt for virtual, on-line instruction, work to make it as effective as possible, including having teachers broadcast their lessons from their regular classrooms.

"This would entail teaching students via a virtual platform, but in a similar manner, and with the same curriculum as if learning were done in person," the letter said.

Democratic state Representative Sandy Pope, of Mt. Horeb, criticized the Republican for sending the letter.

"The decisions of opening in-person or virtually should be made using science and data, both of which suggest that in-person classes will greatly increase infection rates in many areas the state," she said. "Ignoring this obvious risk is recklessly dangerous and will ultimately cost lives. Needlessly exposing our children and educators to high transmission rates is unconscionable. They should not be used as guinea pigs for re-opening society.”

Some GOP lawmakers have said that Governor Tony Evers is planning to order schools to begin the year with virutal instruction only, but he denied that in speaking with e Milwaukee television station, saying individual school districts were doing well in charting the own courses for reopening school in the fall.


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