Madison school focuses on keeping students in the classroom, COVID-19 out

MADISON, Wis.– One City Schools is determined to keep students in the classroom and the COVID-19 virus out.

One City Schools is the only public grade school in Madison holding in-person instruction right now.

“It’s something that our families need,” Principal Faren D’Abell said.

D’Abell said two-thirds of the school attends in-person instruction, which is nearly 70 kids. There’s 15 kids in each class.

“We’re small. We’re agile,” D’Abell said. “We can change when we need to.”

The school uses Public Health Madison and Dane County guidelines as a starting point, allowing pre-school through second grades to meet in-person. It also adjusts safety protocols to protect students, staff and even the few visitors allowed inside.

The school conducts it’s own surveillance COVID-19 testing on site. Two staff members are trained to test saliva for the virus.

“If the saliva has a contagious amount of the virus causing COVID-19 in it, we alert the person it is that they should go get a diagnostic test,” Chief of Operations Davis Stephan said.

All employees are required to test weekly. The school highly recommends students test weekly, but it is not mandatory.

One City Schools has quarantined three classrooms, but has not had to shut down the entire school.

“It’s not easy. It’s a lot of work,” Stephan said.

It’s not cheap, either. Testing at full level costs between $1,500 and $2,100 each week, according to Stephan.

Stephan said it’s worth the cost if it helps the school achieve it’s goal.

“Our mindset from day one was to do everything possible to stay in the building learning,” Stephan said.

One City Schools is fundraising to pay for testing costs.