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Dane County health officials have amended their schools reopening plan to allow in-person instruction to students with a disability and/or individualized education programs.

On Monday, Sept. 1, Public Health Madison and Dane County released the amendment to Emergency Order No. 9, originally issued Aug. 21. The change, which went into effect Sept. 2, allows for in-person instruction for students in any grade with a disability and/or an Individualized Education Program who, due to their unique needs, may need to receive in-person instruction under state law.

Public and private school buildings and grounds remain able to open for in-person instruction of students in grades K-2, with precautions. Students in grades 3-12 are still required to begin the school year virtually, until county health orders allow them to return.

About two-thirds of Oregon School District students are starting the school year in a “phased restart,” starting the year virtually, but will begin returning to schools as county health restrictions allow. Around a third of students’ families opted for them to work virtually for the fall semester.

Given the timing of the Aug. 21 county order and COVID-19 statistics, K-2 students in the restart plan could return as soon as Monday, Sept. 14. District superintendent Leslie Bergstrom said last month the plan would be to keep those students in “really small groups” for short sessions to get them used to physical distancing, hygiene standards and wearing masks.

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