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PNS Daily Newscast - September 25, 2020 


Democrats reported to be preparing a smaller pandemic relief package; vote-by-mail awaits a court decision in Montana.


2020Talks - September 25, 2020 


Senators respond to President Donald Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. And, former military and national security officials endorse Joe Biden.

Can Wisconsin Schools Afford to Reopen Safely?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction says it expects schools to reopen this fall, but parents and students can expect things to look very different after of the pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction says it expects schools to reopen this fall, but parents and students can expect things to look very different after of the pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
June 23, 2020

MADISON, Wis. -- Parents and educators face uncertainty over the potential reopening of school buildings closed because of the pandemic. Wisconsin officials provided some clarity Monday, but one group wonders if districts are equipped to welcome students back.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released guidelines that include several scenarios. One is a four-day week so buildings can undergo deep cleaning on the fifth day. There are also two-day rotations, with more distance learning mixed in.

Heather Dubois Bourenane, executive director of the Wisconsin Public Education Network, said all the potential plans pose challenges.

"None of the things that are being proposed are going to be necessarily cheap or easy or quick fixes," Dubouis Bourenane said.

She also worries that students who were at a disadvantage with distance learning this spring might end up further behind this fall if districts can't adequately prepare.

State education officials say the pandemic has exacerbated learning inequities, and they'll support local leaders in finding creative ways to ensure all kids are able to access the same level of instruction.

Education advocates worry that, as school districts grapple with the added costs of implementing safety measures, they'll also see steep cuts in state funding because of the crisis.

Dubois Bourenane said it could be a huge problem for low-income districts that rely heavily on state dollars and lack the property-tax revenue to make up for any shortfalls. She asked, "What's the plan for making sure that the kids who need the most get the most?"

She said she's hopeful help will come from Congress in the form of the HEROES Act, which includes more relief funding for schools. The bill cleared the U.S. House in May, but has run into opposition in the Senate.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - WI