Verona Area School District administrative building March 2020

The outside of the Verona Area School District administration building.

The first semester of the 2020-21 school year will be all-virtual for any family that does not tell the Verona Area School District of its preference by Wednesday, Aug. 12.

That was the reality described by superintendent Dean Gorrell during the Verona Area Board of Education’s Thursday, Aug. 6, board meeting.

As of the Aug. 6 meeting, only 60% of families had responded to a survey the district sent to parents the previous week asking whether they would prefer an all-virtual model for the first semester or a phased restart.

The board had approved the two options at its Monday, July 27, meeting.

The phased restart is a half-day in-person education for grades K-2 and starting virtually for grades 3-12 and returning when it’s deemed to be safe. Each choice commits students to the first semester.

Families received a survey by email Friday, July 31, to choose their preferred option, with a deadline of Friday, Aug. 7. Once Wednesday, Aug. 12, arrives, the district will need to move forward with a plan, Gorrell said.

The majority of those who responded chose the phased restart. Around 70% of families of K-2 students opted to send their children to school as of the board meeting, with 78% for grades 3-5, 83% for grades 6-8 and 84% for high schoolers.

If the district doesn’t know how the exact number of K-2 students it will bring back to school in person, Gorrell said, the district cannot plan how many class sections it will need, or how many teachers will need to be assigned to buildings for the in-person plan.

“This will be terribly unpopular for a few parents,” he said. “We’ll have to make an assignment, and that assignment will be for all-virtual.”

District staff will continue to reach out to families who have not responded to the survey through emails, texts, Facebook messages, and will use the district’s translator team to reach families whose first language is Spanish, to get all of the responses, Gorrell said.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.​