Another La Crosse area school district allowing kids back to class in the fall

West Salem School District planning on reopening to students

WEST SALEM, Wis. (WKBT) – The School District of La Crosse is not the only one in our area planning to have students back in class this fall.

West Salem School District is expecting most children to learn in-class once school begins in September.

“We’re looking at a five-day a week for 4K through eight at this point in time,” superintendent Ryan Rieber said. “And then a blended model for our high school.”

Rieber says high schoolers will alternate between in-class and online learning two days per week. One day each week will be set aside for virtual learning for all upper-level students.

“It’s a whole new experience for all of us,” West Salem High School science teacher Mark Byom said.

This fall will no doubt be a strange time teaching for Byom.

“I don’t think anybody’s taught in a pandemic like this before,” Byom said.

He is not a total stranger when it comes to teaching online.

“We did some before this pandemic happened,” Byom said. “But boy, it’s been in overdrive since then.”

Once the new semester begins, Byom will be holding a class online every week.

“You know, we know how vital it is to have kids in school,” Rieber said. “But we also know that it’s important to keep our staff and students safe as well.”

Kids will be spaced out in class and there will be more hand-washing stations. But requirements for wearing a face covering are still not set in stone.

“So we need to make sure that any plan that we go forward with to keep the safety of our people and our children safe,” Rieber said.

Byom also has three kids of his own who go to West Salem Elementary and Middle schools.

“Boy it is a lot going on at once,” Byom said.

As if life needed to get more challenging in a time when we are all overcoming new ones.

“I’ve also I think been amazed at how quickly kids adapt to this stuff,” Byom said. “And they’re flexible, and more resilient I think sometimes than we give them credit for.”

He knows there is risk involved everywhere, but he says the reward going back to school in a pandemic could be worth it.

“Elementary and middle-school aged (children), the social learning that they do, and the social connections that they make is just so important that in my mind at least, it’s worthwhile to give the traditional in-school instruction a chance,” Byom said.

More than 1,800 students attend the West Salem School District.

Rieber says the school’s plans are fluid, and he hopes the plan gets finalized by the school board July 27th.

It is then up to the county health department to approve the plan.