BELOIT—The School District of Beloit has extended its online learning up through Jan. 22 due to the positivity rate of COVID-19 in Rock County.

“We are an educational organization. While learning is what we do, with COVID, health and safety has to be a priority in the decision making process about how we educate our students,” said interim superintendent Daniel Keyser. “We’ve opened in distance learning and have remained consistent for our families and students and staff. Would we like to be in person? Absolutely, but when we open we want to remain in that mode.”

Three criteria must be met for the district to return to in-person learning including transportation, school capacity, and the COVID-19 metric in Rock County. That metric includes a 14-day average percentage of positive test trendline that is decreasing and at less than 5%. Keyser noted that isn’t the current environment at this time.

Keyser explained that a decision regarding reopening is being made each midway point of the term so it gives families time to plan if they need to make any adjustments. Term 2 runs through Jan. 22.

Keyser noted the district is also getting closer to Thanksgiving and holiday breaks with lots of families getting together for activities. It will also be the cold and flu season which could result in students and staff being out of school. While staff could work from home if necessary if they are ill or in quarantine, they would not be able to be working in school for in-person learning.

Currently, there are four cases of COVID-19 among School District of Beloit staff members, although the cases did not originate in the school. The four are in quarantine.

Keyser said the district has reached out in a survey to parents to ask how the first half of distance learning is going, and results will be released soon. He said the district asked families what is going well and what needs to improve.

Each building is monitoring the kids who are engaged with online learning and teams are reaching out to students not engaged in distance learning.

Keyser said he is continually meeting and communicating with community partners such as the library, Community Action Inc. and the Boys & Girls Club to help find ways to support students and families. There are 50 students currently getting online learning support at the Beloit Boys & Girls Club, and Keyser has approved a security officer and group of paraeducators going over to the Club to assist starting next week.

The Beloit Public Library has been working with the district to offer some technical assistance for iPads. The district will next be at the Beloit Public Library from 11 a.m.—7 p.m. on Oct. 8 to offer students and families assistance with navigating iPads and apps. School District of Beloit Spanish interpreters will be available, and no appointment is necessary.

Conversations are also underway to see about offering some one-on-one learning for high need students and some special education students have been in for testing.

“We’ve been exploring safe ways to bring in students for itinerant services one-on-one,” Keyser said.

If anyone want to help or have ideas Keyser invites them to email him at dkeyser@sdb.k12.wi.us or call him at 608-361-4017.