Onalaska, Holmen families prepare for students to go back to virtual learning

LA CROSSE COUNTY, Wis. (WKBT)– After only a few days of in-person learning, the Onalaska and Holmen school districts decided to revert back entirely to virtual learning. The sudden change set to go into effect this coming Monday is frustrating, but not necessarily surprising for many families in the district.

James Monsour has his hands full with six kids. Four of them attend schools in the Onalaska School District.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Monsour said.

Virtual learning has not been ideal and going back to it so quickly isn’t either.

“Lot of parents, you know, got everything set up for work and everything and all of a sudden they have to find something to juggle the time because the kids are coming back Monday,” Monsour said.

Luckily, he’s a stay-at-home dad. But it’s a challenge for them to all be there at once.

“And the little ones being online, I have to constantly babysit them you know? It’s like, parents shouldn’t be doing the homework,” Monsour said.

Virtual learning hasn’t been easy for Kari Anderson’s son either.

“He’s more of a visual, in-person learner,” said Anderson.

He goes to Prairie View Elementary in Holmen. Initially, she was surprised that the district was going back despite a continuing climb in COVID-19 cases.

“But at the same time, I guess I understood their thought on the importance of in-person learning,” Anderson said.

She told her employer that she was taking it week by week, and they were understanding. But friends and family have not been as fortunate.

“They’ve had to either you know take some time away from their jobs or find a different alternative,” Anderson said.

While she did expect at some point to go back to distance learning, what she didn’t anticipate was after just two days, one of her son’s classmates would contract COVID. They immediately went back to virtual learning.

“He was emotional about it because of course, he misses his friends and the social part of it,” Anderson said.

According to Holmen School District’s COVID-19 dashboard, as of Thursday, there are 21 active cases. For Prairie View Elementary, 10% of students are in quarantine.

It may be difficult to make these sudden changes. But, Anderson said, at the end of the day, everyone is in the same boat of navigating uncertainty— from the districts to the teachers, to families and students.

“As long as we’re just all patient with each other and try the best that we can do, that’s basically the bottom line,” Anderson said.

Both the Onalaska and Holmen School district said they will be able to offer delivery and pick-up meals.

Onalaska will provide emergency school day programming for elementary students. But that is only for families that were previously enrolled at the beginning of the year.