University School of Milwaukee reopened its campus to students on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020 for the start of the 2020–21 school year. Families continue to be offered the option of choosing between on-campus learning and a synchronous (real-time) distance learning for each child. USM has asked families to think about these decisions in one-month increments to assist teachers in lesson planning and classroom management, with monthly surveys collecting this information for each student. However, the school understands that flexibility will be needed, and also desired, depending on a family’s specific situation throughout the entire school year.
Ultimately, USM’s goal is to be able to remain open and able to offer in-person learning for those students who, along with their families, feel comfortable in being on campus, while also offering a robust distance learning alternative for families who are not comfortable having their child on campus at that time, or when a child cannot be on campus due to an isolation or quarantine situation.
The USM campus reopened to students on Tuesday, Sept. 1. The school understands that families want (and in some cases, need) flexibility throughout this school year, which is why families are offered a synchronous (real-time) distance learning opportunity for students, in which they will join their classmates in on-campus classrooms via an enhanced online experience (using Google Meet or Zoom, depending on the grade level) and USM’s new Meeting Owl technology.
USM will send a brief, required survey to the families of all students at the end of each month. In that survey, families are expected to indicate whether or not each enrolled child will spend the following month in his or her on-campus classrooms or use distance learning. (This decision can be made independently for each child in a family.) The school is asking families to think about this decision in one-month (or longer) increments, to assist teachers in lesson planning and classroom management—meaning, the survey selection for each child should indicate your plans for the following month's learning for that child. However, the school understands that flexibility will be needed, and also desired, depending on a family’s specific situation throughout the school year.
USM asks that, to the best of your ability, you follow the selection made for each child each month, but respects that a family’s specific situation may change at any time, and is committed to providing all families with reasonable flexibility. If your child would need to isolate (due to a positive COVID-19 test) or quarantine (due to COVID-19 symptoms, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive diagnosis), the school would obviously allow an immediate mid-month switch from on-campus to online learning. All other requests to change a child’s learning option mid-month would be handled on a case-by-case basis, and would start with a phone call to the school’s nurse clinic (for health-related requests) or the child’s division office (for all other requests). USM would continue to evaluate this process on a regular basis and make changes to it as needed.
No; the reopening plan USM has created is not intended to be used as an intentional hybrid learning model by families. Additionally, it is not intended to be used by families as a way to move back and forth between on-campus and distance learning for things such as family vacations, parent work schedules, unique family situations, etc.
Yes; there will be limitations to extent of our distance learning experience for students. Faculty will do their best to ensure distance learners remain active and involved in the classroom, but we do not offer a separate schedule for distance learners with dedicated teachers in charge of distance learning. Specific activities, such as labs, tests, art classes, and physical education, will be handled by individual faculty in the most equitable manner possible, depending on the specific class, activity, and situation. Students will stay with their same class cohorts even if they move to the distance learning option.
Individual classes have a maximum number of students, and this number depends on the size of the specific classroom for each class. In-person and distance learning students are counted the same in determining that class size, as it is possible that the number of each will ebb and flow from month to month. Therefore, no class size would be over the maximum in the event that all students in that particular class happened to be learning in person at the same time.
No; USM has invested heavily to enhance the distance learning experience, and families who choose the distance learning option for their child are choosing the alternative to the preferred and recommended option, so no discounts or refunds to tuition or other costs will be provided. The school has fixed costs that do not change when a family makes use of the alternative distance learning option. If USM was required to, or would make the decision to, move all students to distance learning for some period of time, the school would reevaluate its thinking on this topic at that time.
This decision tree provides a basic road map for your family to better understand your options for typical on-campus learning and distance learning.
Although safe, on-campus learning is our primary goal, we are offering flexible options for families who are not yet ready for their child to return to campus, or for situations where a child may need to isolate or quarantine for an extended period of time.
We are also continuing to actively prepare additional scenarios in the event that it is determined that typical on-campus learning is not safe, or distance learning again becomes mandated by state and/or local governments.