The Mount Horeb Area Board of Education voted Monday night against a proposal that would have allowed some K-2 students to return to local classrooms. The decision came after hours of testimony and discussion, during which nearly every parent who spoke – some through tears – pleaded with the board to allow in-person learning to resume. At the same meeting, the board reviewed surveys that showed most teachers are not comfortable allowing children to return, and many would consider taking leave through the federal CARES Act if they did so.
Near the end of the meeting, board supervisors Rod Hise, Jeff Hanna and Dani Michels voted in a favor of a motion, which was made my Michels, to allow K-2 students to return at the start of the second quarter. Supervisors Leah Lipska, Kimberly Sailor, Jessica Arrigoni and Diana Rothamer voted against the plan, saying they will not support a return to the classroom until positive cases of the COVID-19 virus across Dane County are less than half of what they are right now.
Public Health of Madison & Dane County’s current recommendations allow K-2 students return to the classroom, but a plan previously approved by the local school board sets markers – including positive tests and multiple other factors – for a return that have not yet been met.
At the heart of the debate, was disagreement over which is more harmful: the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus or requiring young children to learn almost entirely on a screen, from home.