More than 80 percent of parents in two Rock County county school districts support in-person learning this fall

JANESVILLE, Wis. – More than 80 percent of families in both the School District of Janesville and the School District of Milton say they support sending their children back for in-person education in the fall, should administration allow.

According to district surveys done by the Donovan Group in Milwaukee, the majority of responding parents feel comfortable even if all learning is done in a school. Close to 40 percent of respondents feel best if the schools move forward with a hybrid model of in-person and online.

“It’s obviously still a very fluid situation. We want to get plans in front of our staff and parents as soon as possible so they can start thinking about what this fall will look like, but we also know a lot of things can change,” said Richard Dahman, Superintendent for the School District of Milton.

Dahman says while the district wants to prioritize safety, it also wants to get students back socializing with one another.

“If my elderly sick dad was in the home with us, I might have a different opinion,” said Cindy Paulsen, who has students in both elementary in middle school. “I think they should go back to school.”

Paulsen says while her family eventually got used to at-home learning, her children missed being able to see and interact with classmates.

“We got the routine going, but (my daughter) really does miss school,” Paulsen said. “I know they talked about spacing it out, and every other day, having some kids go on one day. I think that could be more effective. I would hate to see them miss recess or have to wear masks all day long, but if it sends them back to school, I say, let’s do it.”

Other families say the decision to send their children back to school is complicated by having family members who are at-risk living in the household.

“In everyday normal life before COVID-19, we had to be careful then, too,” said Gail Chesmore, who’s husband is undergoing dialysis treatments.

“I worry that things won’t be followed strictly in schools,” she said. “Social distancing is going to be a tough thing for them to do.”

Dahman says he doesn’t want students in these situations to be punished. He says the School District of Milton has plans for an online only curriculum for students who need it.

“We have a responsibility to provide a high quality education for all of our students, not just academically but also to meet all of their social and emotional needs,” he said. “We also have a responsibility to do that in a way that lowers the risk as much as possible for our students and our staff members.”

To view results of the Janesville and Milton surveys, follow the links provided.

Rock County Family Survey Data Breakdown

DGWI – Janesville – Rock County Re-Entry Survey – July 2, 2020