FAQs about reopening of 2020-21 school year

Q: When is the first day of school? Sept. 1 - Templeton Middle School and Hamilton High School Sept. 3 - Elementary schools and Silver Spring Intermediate School Sept. 8 - Willow Springs Learning Center
Q: Will there be Great Start conferences this year? Yes, at Willow Springs, they will be held Sept. 1, 2, 3 and 4, and at the elementary schools and Silver Spring Intermediate School, they will be Sept. 1 and 2.
Q: What steps will be taken to limit exposure on school buses? Students will be  expected  to wear masks or cloth face coverings on school buses. Hand sanitizer will be available on buses. Buses will be disinfected between runs.
Q: Will before and after school care be available for K-8 students? Yes, as in the past, Y-care will be available at schools where there is enough interest to provide services.
Q: Will face shields be promoted for students or staff? Students and staff may wear face shields but they will not be used in place of face coverings.
Q: Will parents and volunteers be allowed on campus? Volunteers will be limited to essential volunteers in the healthroom, library and workrooms.
Q: Will there be health screening of people who visit the school? Visitors entering the building must complete a health-screening questionnaire and have their temperature checked.
Q: What other steps are being taken to ensure a healthy environment? Hamilton School District Schools will partner with parents in educating students on the importance of symptom screening, staying home when ill, good hand hygiene, and social distancing to prevent the spread of illness.  Staff members will also be educated on the importance of symptom screening, staying home when ill, good hand hygiene, and social distancing to prevent the spread of illness. Signage will be posted throughout schools encouraging healthy hygiene habits to reduce the risk of transmission and promoting social distancing. Hand sanitizer will be made available in classrooms, busses and workplaces.
Q: Has the district considered the impact on learning that could occur if teachers are quarantined due to getting or being exposed to COVID-19? Yes, without adequate staffing in place, the district will not be able to sustain traditional in-person or virtual online instruction. The measure we are taking to reduce transmission is for the benefit of both students and teachers. In addition, the district is helping instructional paraprofessionals get their substitute teaching certification so that we have an adequate number of substitutes when teachers are absent.
Q: Are you adding additional health room attendants to each school for proper screening? Staffing was added to ensure every health room throughout the district has one person and a back-up to be available in the health room.
Q: What steps will be taken to limit exposure in the school cafeteria? Lunches will be to-go style with no-contact service. This means that students will scan IDs with barcodes rather than entering their PIN on a keyboard. Disposable trays, individual condiments and no self-service will be served. Physical barriers will be plexiglass sneeze guards, face shields for servers, one-way entrance and exit traffic patterns, assigned seating with cohort groups and tables that are spread out as far as possible. Each school will develop a plan to socially distance students during lunch. Outside eating will be allowed for students in grades 5-12, weather permitting. Water fountains will be turned off, but bottle fillers will still function and disposable cups will be available. Those who bring their own lunch will be asked to use disposable bags and will be responsible to bring their lunch from the classroom to the cafeteria.
Q: If schools had to close for an extended period, what would the weekly schedule look like? Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday would be instructional days with new content being taught and posted. Wednesday would still be an instructional day, but time would be reserved for connecting with students via small groups and one-on-one conferences, or attempting to contact students who may have been missing from the virtual environment.
Q: Once I choose an option, can I change my mind later? A continuous and consistent learning environment is best for student success. However, we understand that families may experience a significant life change and seek a transition from one option to another, so we will provide opportunities to do so when available. For the sake of continuity, transfers from one learning option to another should occur at semester.
Q: Will each option offer the same classes and services? Core classes will be available under both options. The  virtual online option will have a selection of electives, but these may differ from courses available in the traditional in-person model. All other services or instruction available in the traditional in-person model will be available in the virtual online learning environment.
Q: Are all schools using a common communication platform? A common template will be used throughout the district regardless of whether students are in a traditional in-person or virtual online learning environment. The template will clearly communicate learning expectations for the day and provide links to lessons, videos and other resources students will need to complete the day’s work.
Q: Will lessons be recorded every day? Yes, all teachers, regardless of whether they are teaching in the traditional in-person or virtual online format, will record the direct-instruction portion of their lesson. These recordings will be posted online by the beginning of the school day the following morning for students who are missing, to provide opportunities to reteach and to allow parents to support students. Lessons will begin to be recorded the week of: Sept. 8 for grades 5-12; Sept. 14 for grades 1-4; and Sept. 21 for Pre-K and kindergarten.
Q: Will classes be the same length of time if they are taught in school or virtually? Virtual classes will look different from traditional classes in formatting, however the time spent learning will be similar. The following guidelines help clarify how virtual instruction time will be formatted: Virtual Learning Time Recommendations.
Q: Why wasn't a hybrid model proposed? In a hybrid system, students are on an A/B schedule where they attend school physically some days and virtually on other days. A subcommittee is looking into the possibility of offering a hybrid model in case of COVID-19 spread, but it was not initially offered for several reasons. Based on parent feedback and the experience of other school districts, only a minority of families would likely choose that option. Hamilton is not big enough to offer traditional in-person, virtual online and hybrid choices. Offering three separate options requires more staffing. Having adequate staffing is already a concern using our existing models. While teachers will be teaching full time, students will get only half of the curriculum. Having groups of students to manage in-person and online is difficult for both students and teachers. And finally, daycare options will be challenging for many working families who need daycare during the day if their child is not in school. While the district may need to pursue this option in the future, a majority of families clearly favored starting in person .
Q: Under the traditional in-person model, will elementary students be able to have recess? Yes. Recess will be organized to emphasize social distancing. Students will use hand sanitizer both before going outside and upon re-entering their classroom. Recess times will be staggered with limited shared equipment. When indoors, students will remain in cohorts in designated areas.
  • Willow will develop a recess schedule to minimize the number of classes outside at the same time, provide options for winter outdoor play when the equipment is closed and discourage playing tag or chase to assist with social distancing protocols
  • At the elementary level, one grade level outside at a time
  • At the intermediate level, half of a grade level outside at a time with increased staff presence
  • Increased staff presence at middle school

Q: Will students wear face coverings in the classrooms? Yes. Face coverings will be required when social distancing is difficult or not possible (i.e.classrooms, hallways, common areas, school bus, etc.). Here is the policy.
Q: If I want my child to wear a mask but other children in the classroom won’t keep their mask on, what rights do I have? Can I demand all children in a room keep their masks on? The teacher will be responsible for guiding students in the wearing of face coverings. Some students may be exempted from wearing a face covering based on medical, developmental or mental health reasons. Students will be redirected when they are not following expectations. If a student willfully refuses to follow the teacher’s direction the incident will be communicated to parents and documented, and if necessary, the district will follow its progressive discipline policy.
Q: Will students be expected to socially distance? In the school setting, students will be socially distanced to the greatest extent possible. At the elementary and intermediate school level, where social distancing will be difficult, students will spend most of the school day interacting only with students in smaller cohort groups.. This will reduce the number of person-to-person contacts to prevent the spread of illness and provide more efficient and effective contract tracing if needed.
How will classrooms be different? The goal will be to maximize spacing between students - 6 feet when feasible. Desks will face the same direction and the room will be decluttered, removing soft items that cannot be wiped down with disinfectant. Assigned seating will allow for easier contact tracing when needed. Students will be with cohort groups as much as possible and common-touch items will be limited. To the extent possible, areas will be cleaned between groups. Students to be directed to sanitize hands before and after entering or exiting the room. Outdoor classes may be utilized as weather permits.
Q: In the traditional in-person option, if students get or are exposed to Covid-19 and need to stay at home for 14 days will they then have the ability to do you schooling virtually without incurring absences?
As long as students log in and continue their studies, they will not be counted as absent. As part of traditional in-person learning, teachers will prepare for emergency remote learning for students who could be quarantined at any given time. They will record the direct-instruction component of their lessons and upload them with daily lessons and activities to support students who are out of the classroom.

Q: What will my child’s school do if a classmate or staff member exhibits symptoms of COVID-19? We will send a clear message to parents and staff that if they are exhibiting any symptoms, they should not come to school or report to work. This infographic provides scenarios on how the district will respond to actual and potential cases of COVID-19.
Q: Under what scenario would children be sent home? The following symptoms could indicate a COVID-19 infection: cough - new onset or worsening of chronic cough, shortness of breath, fever of 100.4 degrees F or greater, chills, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain, headache, new loss of taste or smell, fatigue, nausea or vomiting , diarrhea. Students displaying any of the following symptoms that are new or not normal for the student at this time of the year and not associated with a current known health condition will not be allowed in school. Students should be kept home from school. Please note that any student who arrives at school with these symptoms or develops any of these symptoms at school will be sent home for further evaluation.
Q: What will the bathroom protocol be? Students will be allowed to use bathrooms as needed. Efforts will be made to limit the number of students in a bathroom at a time.
Q: How will hygiene protocols and other useful information be promoted among students? Classroom teachers will review procedures during the first week as we do with other beginning of the year guidelines. The district will implement a “Wash Up, Back Up, Mask Up, Speak Up” campaign to encourage and remind students about hygiene and social distancing. Hand sanitizers will be in the entrances to classrooms and other areas. Students will be asked to wash or sanitize hands when entering and exiting classrooms and frequently throughout the day.
What supplies will students who chose virtual online need for the school year? The virtual online supply lists are:

Q: Is the virtual online option identical to the distance learning we experienced during the final months of the school year? No. Based on feedback from teachers, students, and parents, we have a clearer idea of which factors contribute to greater student success. Those factors include more frequent, real-time interaction between students and teachers. Virtual students will receive a schedule that includes scheduled times for live instruction and independent, self-paced practice daily.
Q: If I choose the virtual online option, will I need to have my own computer or laptop? A device and an internet connection will be necessary. The district will provide devices and arrange internet hotspots when possible if families indicated a need through registration.
Q: Will Advanced Placement courses be offered through one of the online learning models? Yes. AP courses will be available through the virtual online learning model, as well as the traditional in-person model. The exact course offerings by school will be finalized in the coming weeks.
Q: Will families who rely on the free and reduced lunch program who choose the virtual online format be able to participate in the lunch program? Yes, because the lunches will be served to-go, families will be able to come to the school to get a lunch that they can take home.
Q: What are the expectations for grading norms in a virtual environment? Grading would mimic what is typical in the traditional in-person setting.
Q: How will students and families know if work is missing or incomplete while learning remotely? At the end of each week, families of students who are learning remotely will get a message -- via Seesaw for grade preK-6 and Infinite Campus for grades 7-12 -- if work is missing or incomplete.
Q: Will students who are English Language Learners receive accommodations in virtual online? A: All students attending virtual online will have access to any accommodations that naturally occur in the virtual setting, including translation. Teachers will provide additional appropriate accommodations as they are applicable to the online educational environment. Please note that some accommodations may not be possible to implement in the online setting.
Q: How will Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings take place in the fall? Hamilton School District Schools is committed to providing families an opportunity to have meaningful participation in the special education process. Whether students are in a traditional in-person or a virtual online format, IEP teams will partner with families to determine the most practical format to conduct IEP meetings.
Q: Will students with Individual Education Plans (IEP) or 504 plans receive accommodations in traditional in-person and virtual online formats? Special education teachers will work with their families to walk through what each goal will look like in the traditional in-person as well as the virtual online school. Accommodations will be a part of this discussion. Families will receive a written plan regarding each of their child's goals from the special education teacher.
Q: What services or instruction will not be available for those choosing virtual online learning? Special education teachers will discuss what each goal will look like in the traditional in-person and virtual online settings. The plan for each goal will include: instructional materials and curriculum utilized, modifications and accommodations used to support the student, implementation practices, and communication. Once these plans are finalized, families will receive a copy of the plan for each goal that their child has. All goals will be accounted for in both in-person and virtual instruction.
Q: What steps will be taken to ensure that surfaces are clean in classrooms? School custodians will clean frequently touched surfaces throughout the day and conduct overall cleanings at the conclusion of every day. Other non-custodial staff members will be expected to do their part keeping surfaces clean, and will be provided spray bottles and microfiber cloths for additional cleaning. Teachers will have access to cleaning supplies for their classroom.
Q: Will school buildings get extra staff to help clean and monitor the increased cleaning protocols? Yes the district is hiring extra staff to support extra cleaning during the school day.
Q: What special technology and protocols will be in place to clean, disinfect and sanitize schools? Are the chemicals used safe for use in school? In addition to the typical high expectations for clean classrooms and buildings throughout the school district, the following extra measures will be taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19:
  • Frequent sanitization of high-touch, common spaces and objects
  • Electrostatic and ultra-violet light technology after the work day to augment cleaning and sanitizing
  • A neutral cleaner and paper towels available for students to wipe individual desks or table areas. Other cleaning products to be handledby trained staff only.
  • Teachers will be encouraged to clean surfaces touched by students in their classroom at break times or in between student groups.
  • Chromebooks from shared carts cleaned with dry disinfectant spray
Q: What are the procedures if students or staff have COVID-19 symptoms or feel unwell at school? This infographic provides answers to various scenarios.
Q: What criteria is used to determine who is a close contact of a person who has COVID-19? If a student is wearing a mask, will he or she still be considered a close contact? Someone is a close contact if any of the following situations happened while they spent time with a person with COVID-19 (even if they didn’t have symptoms):
  • Had direct physical contact with the person (i.e.,hug, kiss, handshake).
  • Was within 6 feet of the person for more than 15 minutes (can be cumulative).
  • Had contact with the person’s respiratory secretions (i.e.,coughed/sneezed on, contact with a dirty tissue, sharing a drinking glass, food, or towels or other personal items).
  • Stayed overnight for at least one night in a household with the person The use of a mask or cloth face covering by an infectious individual in a community, non-healthcare setting most likely reduces the risk of transmission of COVID-19, but it is unknown to what degree. In a community setting, risk assessment and quarantine guidance for a contact is not affected by the case-patient or contact wearing a mask or cloth face covering.

Q: If my child is identified as a close contact to someone with COVID-19, must he or she be quarantined? If your child has been identified as a close contact to a known case of COVID-19 the Waukesha County Health Department will notify you and provide information on the need to quarantine.
Q: Will parents be notified if someone at their child’s school or in their child’s classroom tests positive for COVID-19? Notification will be the same process in place for other communicable diseases in school. A student in the same classroom, house or grade level as a person who tests positive will be notified based on the guidance from the Waukesha County Health Department. No individual student or staff member will be identified. Close contact notification will be coordinated with the health department.
Q: How effective is testing for COVID-19? If my child is considered a close contact to a person who has contracted the disease, will a negative result of a COVID-19 test allow my child to go back to school immediately? If an individual tests negative for COVID-19, he or she probably was not infectious at the time the sample was collected. However, that does not mean that person will not get sick. The test result means he or she did not have detectable COVID-19 at the time of testing. An individual may test negative if the sample was collected too early in the infection and could test positive later during the illness. A person also could be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and get infected then. If an individual develops symptoms later, another test may be needed. For people who are quarantined, a negative test does not mean that quarantine can end early. Close contacts are quarantined for 14 days because COVID-19 could develop at any time during that 14-day period.
Q: What if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19? The Waukesha County Health Department will notify the district if a student or staff member tests positive. We will cooperate with Waukesha County Health Department to conduct the appropriate notifications of individuals who have been in contact with the person infected. Our reopening plan is designed to limit the spread of infection and to limit the disruption to a school or workplace in the event of an infection. More details about how the district will respond to actual and potential COVID-19 cases is in this infographic.
Q: What would be the deciding factor in school being closed and going virtual for all students? The district is partnering with the Waukesha County Health Department to make a decision about closing a school. Details about the how those decisions will be made are in this infographic. More information about the metrics that will be used is on this district webpage.
Q: How long does a quarantine last? The amount of time a person is required to quarantine or isolate varies depending on the person's situation. This video created by the North Shore Health Department provides a good explanation.
Q: Will there be athletics and extracurricular activities? Yes, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association supports fall sports, but they have adjusted the start dates. Cross country and girls’ tennis, golf and swim & dive begin their seasons Aug. 17; boys’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ volleyball and football begin Sept. 7
Q: Will athletes and coaches be required to wear masks? When inside, all athletes must wear a face covering. All coaches must wear face covering inside and outside when addressing the team or an individual.
Q: Will parents still be allowed to attend games? The decision about fans being present at competitions is still in discussion, but if allowed, people should expect restrictions and guidelines.
Q: If a student chooses the virtual online option, are they able to try out for school sports? Yes, students participating in the virtual online model will be able to participate in sports, clubs, and other after school activities. They must abide by the same rules as if they were in a traditional environment, i.e., must attend classes daily online, pass courses, etc.
Q: Will athletic fees be adjusted? If the season is cut short, will there be refunds? The athletic fee is the same as in the past -- $75. If a season is cut short, the district would make a decision about refunds based on the circumstances.
Q: Will all staff be provided with microphones so that they can be fully heard when speaking in the classroom?   Yes, each teacher will be provided with a wireless microphone. 
Q: What type of devices, platforms and technologies will the district use to provide instruction to students in both virtual and traditional formats? Why were these platforms and technologies chosen? A variety of technology and platforms are used to deliver instruction. Devices such as Chromebooks and iPads are used throughout the district, and students in grades 5-12 are issued a Chromebook as part of the district 1-1 program. The Seesaw app is the primary parent communication tool for teachers in grades K-6 teachers. Google websites and Infinite Campus will continue to be used to communicate expectations and assignments in grades 7-12. Google Classroom will also be used at grades 3-12. 
Q: Are the virtual meeting platforms that the district has chosen safe enough to protect student privacy? Yes, the safety and privacy rights of students is a high priority for the district in evaluating software platforms. In addition, all virtual platforms used in the district are in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Q: What devices and other technology will the district provide and what are families expected to have? Students enrolled in grades 5-12 are issued a Chromebook as part of the existing 1-1 Chromebook program. Families are responding to questions about home technology accessibility as part of the online registration process. Should students be quarantined at home or schools close due to spread of the virus, school staff will be reaching out to families who indicated that they do not have access to devices or the internet.
Q: Has the district invested in technology or equipment to prepare for the 2020-21 school year that will benefit those choosing the 100% virtual format and the potential that traditional students may be shifted to online because of virus spread? Yes. The district invested in several technologies to assist in online instruction. All teachers were provided wireless microphone, and technology projects to support increased use of video and audio technologies were fast tracked. In addition, all teaching staff will be provided with professional development on teaching in an online environment before the start of school.
Q: How am I able to request technical assistance if my student is experiencing technology issues? Please email campushelp@hamilton.k12.wi.us with a description of the issue and best way to contact you.