Superintendent ‘very confident’ in plan for school year

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

Following a pattern at Waterford’s K-8 feeder districts, high school officials recently outlined their plans for a “mask optional” start to the school year, which began Sept. 1.

Superintendent Luke Francois discussed several aspects of WUHS’ kickoff of the 2021-22 school year at a School Board meeting Aug. 23, including the district’s response to COVID-19 precautions.

The high school is making mask wearing optional indoors and outdoors this fall, Francois said, after consulting with several outside sources — most notably, the Central Racine County Health Department.

Luke Francois

“We are ready — we are ready to reopen,” Francois said in his presentation at the board meeting. “I’m excited to welcome back students.”

The board packet included several documents related to the reopening plan, including a letter sent out to families about COVID-19 safety protocols, which come as the Delta variant has renewed concerns about the pandemic’s stronghold, nearly a year-and-a-half since the novel coronavirus was first detected in the area.

The letter, in part, reads, “Waterford Union High School’s leadership team acknowledges that not requiring universal masking is better for student learning and improves social and emotional behaviors.”

The letter also outlines the various safety protocols that will be in place this fall, many of which have been emphasized since March 2020. Francois said there will continue to be hygiene stations throughout the school for hand washing, in addition to 3-foot spacing in classrooms.

Additionally, the tried-and-true call for staff and students to stay home if they are not feeling well will continue to be a prominent messaging point to try preventing the spread of COVID-19 or any other viruses.

This year, WUHS will offer onsite rapid testing as an option for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms. District officials also have pledged to monitor data related to community transmission, vaccination coverage and the occurrence of outbreaks within the Waterford area.

Francois said he views the plans as a steady platform for the upcoming school year.

“We feel very, very confident about reopening,” Francois said. “We have many new staff joining us … and they are ready for the first day of school.”

While WUHS is going mask optional, other ancillary entities not governed by the School Board could have different protocols in place. Among them: Dousman Transport, which provides busing, as well as the guidelines put in place from the Southern Lakes Conference and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) for assorted sports and club activities.

In his report about the start of the school year, Francois touched on other issues afoot in 2021-22, including a review of the high school’s mission values.

The values include a list of four pillars: fiscal responsibility, student climate and culture, learning and academic achievement and stakeholder engagement.

Other behind-the-scenes, start-of-year tasks that are underway include a refreshed professional development plan, a continuous improvement plan and an administrative scorecard that Francois said will be shared periodically with the board throughout the school year.