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WI parents quickly adjusting schedules after move online, say district should have seen it coming

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JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- The School District of Janesville is sending home kids at two schools to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak, and some parents say the district should have seen it coming.

Craig High School and Roosevelt Elementary School are switching from in-person to virtual classes. Students will be off Tuesday, before classes start online Wednesday -- and will stay online for two weeks.

"My son said that the hallways were packed," said Michelle Seipel, who has two teens at Craig High School.

Seipel says she was skeptical from the beginning. Parents were given a choice between in-person and virtual at the start, but one of her kids wanted to stay home, while the other wanted to go back.

Seipel decided to send them both to school.

"And here we are, two weeks later, and the school's closed," she said.

She says the option wasn't an option for her, and, given the state of the pandemic, she says administrators should have started the year all virtual.

"I feel like they should have done more testing before school opened," Seipel said. "Teachers too. But now they're doing the testing, and kids are coming positive, and they're quarantining them."

The transition from in-person to online will be quick -- but for parents of high schoolers, it helps that you can leave most teenagers home alone.

The same can't be said for elementary students, however.

Joe Ruchti's 5-year-old son Dominic just started kindergarten in-person at Roosevelt Elementary.

"You have to socialize your kids," he said. "Your kids can't sit behind a computer all day and think that's okay."

Dominic's grandparents can help him do virtual learning starting Wednesday, but Joe says he's lucky.

'"There are parents who will lose their jobs over this because they have to stay home with their kids," he said.

Ruchti says parents he's talked to are scrambling right now.

School District of Janesville says it appreciates people's flexibility. In a news release, the district said:

The School District of Janesville is grateful for and appreciates the partnership that exists with our parents and families. The SDJ thanks the community for their flexibility, patience, and understanding as we work together to keep our students engaged and learning throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Seipel, however, says she's not taking any chances. Her kids will stay virtual for the rest of the year.

"It just doesn't make any sense," she said. "'Oh, we're closed for 2 weeks. Okay let's go back for a week. Let's close for two weeks.' That's really not a good education."

The School District of Janesville says school meals (lunch and breakfast) will still be available for the next two weeks free of charge for curbside pick-up at both Roosevelt Elementary School and Craig High School, starting Tuesday, September 15, 2020, between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. That's in addition to the meal pick-up locations established at Edison, Franklin and Marshall middle schools.