Reopening GRACE Schools 2020-21

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your feedback and questions submitted via our “Submit a Reopening 2020-21 Question” portal. Many questions contained common themes, and they are addressed below. Please also see the categories on our Reopening webpage since content is being updated each week with more details where applicable:


WEEK 4: Questions and Answers


Q: When a student or a teacher tests positive for COVID,  how will this be handled? Will the entire class be tested? Will parents be notified of exposure? How long will anyone who has it be kept out of school?

A: We will follow Prevea Health Protocol. Students and the teacher(s) who were within close proximity will be notified regarding a possible exposure and will be encouraged to quarantine and monitor symptoms. When notifying teachers/staff, the email will come from GRACE Human Resources. If notifying students, the email will be sent to parents from the school principal. GRACE will not be testing nor advise testing. This is to be determined by your healthcare provider. 


Q: Regarding masks, are neck gaiters appropriate? And is slight decoration acceptable, such as multiple colors?

A: As of today, we have been guided by our health partner that certain types of neck gaiter face coverings are not effective in stopping the novel coronavirus. We would prefer that families and staff use traditional face masks rather than neck gaiters. And, yes, slight decorations are acceptable. (THIS ANSWER WAS UPDATED AUG. 26)


Q: What is the protocol for families traveling out of state, especially for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas? Will you enforce quarantines upon their return to the area?

A: We will seek guidance on this from our health partner when these holidays are closer in time. 


Q: When will details be distributed for families enrolled in virtual learning? Things like: who is the teacher, what times of day will live learning occur, school supply lists, technology needs, how many students are in the virtual class, expectations for the trimester, etc.

A: Families will receive the first email from our GRACE Virtual Academy within the next few days.  


Q: Will GRACE have a daily dashboard online for each school or the system overall detailing the number of coronavirus cases and what became of each case? 

A: There is no plan for a daily dashboard. We are discussing regular updates for our school families to share information and we will communicate the plan once established.


Q: How fast will we get our standardized testing completed to see our students’ learning status? 

A: MAP testing dates are currently under development. We typically share results of fall testing at parent conference time. 


Q: Will there be desk shields for student desks? 

A: At this time, most schools will not require desk shields. 


Q: What will the GRACE mask policy be after the governor’s mask mandate ends?

A: At this time, we are uncertain. It will be dependent on the guidance from our healthcare providers. 


Q: What ventilation methods are helpful in the classrooms?

A: Our healthcare partners at Prevea indicate that good ways to manage airflow include opening windows (to allow natural air in and out as best as possible), opening classroom doors to hallways (and keeping them open), and using a fan (to move air around and dry air droplets even faster).


WEEK 3: Questions and Answers


Q: Is there a limit to the number of students in each classroom to help ensure social distancing in classrooms?

A: We will utilize our usual GRACE class-size protocols as we begin the year. At this time, the students who will be taking part in the Virtual Academy will not be in class, and desks will be arranged for distancing. Site-by-site decisions are being made to relocate a classroom (for example to the library or another space) to ensure additional space to distance. 


Q: If schools are implementing social distancing in the classrooms, will students also be social distancing in the cafeteria for lunch?

A: Yes.


Q: In the wake of the state mandate to wear masks, will students be allowed to take “mask breaks” during the school day? If so, how many and for how long?

A: Yes, frequent “mask breaks” will be conducted by teachers to allow students to go outside for break to remove their mask (while social distancing) and also stretch and pray. Some of our schools are setting up creative outdoor learning spaces for students. 


Q: Is a “Safer at Home” order the only way at-school learning would transition to at-home learning, or might that occur if there’s an outbreak at one specific school?

A: We would take direction and advice from Brown County Public Health to assist with this decision. They are advising that if an outbreak is greater than 5% (students and staff combined), they would recommend closure for 14 days. 


Q: For Virtual Learning students, when will teachers and school supply lists be announced?

A: We are working on staffing first and then we will be able to share more details with families who signed up for the Virtual Academy regarding supplies and program details. 


Q: Will Virtual Academy teachers and in-person teachers be in contact to know if they’re on a similar pace?

A: Yes, there will be regular communication between Virtual Academy teachers and GRACE Home School teacher for all Virtual students. 


Q: Will there be any interaction between the Virtual Academy students with the face-to-face students … either in the virtual classroom or in person?

A: Students in the Virtual Academy program may interact with their GRACE Home School classroom for aspects such as school assemblies, science demonstrations, guest speakers or community building. All interaction will be virtual only. 


Q: For Virtual Academy students, how will parent communications be handled on a daily basis to assign work to students?

A: Teachers will specifically use technology tools/programs such as Google Classroom or DoJo to communicate learning expectations with students and families. 


Q: If a student who attends school in person is required to quarantine for 14 days, how do we continue their education during that period?

A: The face-to-face classroom teacher will share homework and assignments for face-to-face students for any type of prolonged illness in the same way we have done this in prior years.


Q: How will lunches be socially distanced in the cafeteria even if there are additional lunch periods?

A: For more information about Food Service plans, please visit that webpage HERE.


Q: Will our child be able to participate in other school activities at her current school if she is enrolled in the Virtual Academy – activities like field trips, clubs, math bowl, honor society, etc.? 

A: Yes, as possible and permitted by the GRACE Home School. Please speak with your principal once school begins regarding this question. 


Q: For PK4, there is a 3 day or 5 day but on the Virtual Academy it says 2x, so is there an adjusted tuition?

A: We are still working through the PK enrollment in our Virtual Academy. More information to follow.


Q: What lessons were learned through GRACE: Gold Summer Camp that can be applied to returning to school this fall? Were there any COVID situations/cases that allowed you to test your protocols?

A: There were no COVID situations or issues experienced in GRACE: Gold. We learned that students and teachers can wear masks and that teachers are comfortable and confident teaching while students are socially distancing. 


Q: I see the plan includes safety training for teachers and students. Can we also do training for parents so we are all aligned and working together on this? 

A: Yes. We will share our training components with parents so you can view and become aware of all training that is being conducted. The training components are being prepared at this time. 


Q: How will mask protocols be enforced during the school year? I know students can opt out of masks with a doctor’s signature, so will parents be told how many students will not have masks in the classroom?

A: Mask protocols will be consistent in our schools this fall. The regulations and orders from our state have naturally tightened up these protocols. Also, parents will not be notified how many students have a medical excuse per classroom. This is private information.


Q: Will students be required to have a negative COVID test before returning for the first day of school?

A: No.


Q: Why is there only a 10-day grace period for switching from in-person to virtual learning, or vice-versa? Why not allow parents to give two-weeks notice before a change? Only having three times to switch back or forth during the school year doesn’t seem enough.

A: We feel the 10-day time period is ample time for a family to determine if the face-to-face or virtual option is a good fit for their child.


WEEK 2: Questions and Answers


Q: How will you enforce the number of students allowed in the bathroom at the same time?

A: Signage and monitoring will assist with appropriate bathroom usage. It also will be discussed with students when they return in the fall. 


Q: Will each student have their own sanitizer at their desk?

A: This will be up to the school and teacher. Feel free to send sanitizer with your student if you wish. 


Q: Will more hand sanitizer stations be set up throughout the school?

A: Yes.


Q: How will recess be structured?

A: This is a local, site decision determined by the planning team at each building and will be communicated by your home GRACE school. 


Q: How will drop off and pick up be structured?

A: This is a local, site decision determined by the planning team at each building and will be communicated by your home GRACE school. 


Q: Which teachers will be teaching the online classes?

A: At this time, these staffing decisions are being explored. They will be GRACE teachers who self-select into the GRACE virtual option. 


Q: For students who will be in school buildings for classes, what circumstances would necessitate a return to distance learning? 

A: In the event that a governing body declares another “Safer at Home” order, GRACE will move into a Continuous Learning Plan for our face-to-face students. Details to this plan are being developed and will be published in a future Friday update within our Reopening webpages. In this “Safer at Home” mode, the students enrolled in the Virtual Academy will continue in that mode with the same teachers as they progress and learn.


Q: Will any Google Meets be scheduled for parents to ask questions and interact?

A: At this point, questions can be submitted several ways. First, via the Q&A mode on our Reopening webpage; second, by calling the principal of your school directly; or third, by contacting GRACE President Kim Desotell directly. 


Q: If I don’t want my child to eat lunch in the cafeteria, are there any other options?

A: This would be an individual discussion with the school principal. 


Q: Are you going to have parents sign a permission slip for children to attend Mass? If I am not comfortable having my child attend Mass what are my options?

A: Mass attendance at GRACE is required by all students and is a component of our religious foundation. Bishop David Ricken has indicated the desire to continue our practices for Mass attendance as we return to school. Each school is working through logistics to distancing, offering Mass for only a portion of the student body and masking at Mass to ensure safety practices. Your home GRACE school will publish details regarding these site-specific practices being developed in conjunction with our GRACE partnering parishes. 


Q: If a student enrolled in at-school classes is required to quarantine due to close contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19, will lessons pivot to the distance learning model for that student for the duration of their quarantine?

A: If a student in face-to-face learning is absent for any reason, lessons will continue to be provided by the classroom teacher, not a Virtual Academy teacher. 


Q: What are the plans for gym class and changing in the locker rooms to ensure safety? Could students just remain in their school uniforms?

A: Physical education programming and practices are still in consideration. Should you have thoughts or questions, feel free to contact your principal or your physical education teacher directly. 


Q: If a student is quarantined at home due to COVID-19 symptoms (but assuming they are generally feeling OK), will they be able to partake in online learning options so as not to lose step from their classmates?

A: We will not mix face-to-face and virtual learning environments. Each will be based on Diocese standards; however, the pace, structure and learning delivery in each class will be separate. 


Q: Will students be taught online at home by teachers from their “home” school?

A: Virtual Academy teachers will be GRACE teachers from a variety of schools. They will teach from a central location to promote and support collegiality, consistency, training and technology support. 


Q: Will preschoolers have options for at-home learning?

A: Yes.


Q: If a student is learning online at home, will they still be eligible for athletics?

A: Yes.


Q: Are we able to change our minds and switch to at-school learning, or at-home learning, before the school year begins … and if so, what is the deadline to do that?

A: There will be a 10-day grace period for families at the start of the academic year allowing students to switch if it becomes apparent that the program chosen is not a good fit. Otherwise, changes between the two programs can only be made at the close of a trimester. 


Q: How will school Mass be handled – everyone together, divided up on different days, online options?

A: Each school is working through logistics to distancing, offering Mass for only a portion of the student body and masking at Mass to ensure safety practices. Your home GRACE school will publish details regarding these site-specific practices being developed in conjunction with our GRACE partnering parishes. 


Q: Will band and music classes be held as usual?

A: For the first trimester, music, choir and band will shift to a “theory” approach vs. a performance-focused mode of instruction. For example, band and choir classes will include lessons on rhythm and composing, and music lessons will include lessons on history, notation and instrument families. This mode of instruction will be analyzed each trimester going forward through the pandemic. 


Q: Will there be a signed waiver for parents to commit to not sending kids to school sick?

A: These protocols will be included in the school handbook, which is signed by parents and students annually. 


Q: Are you planning to have additional substitute teachers available?

A: Yes, we hope. If you know of someone who may qualify and would like to serve as a substitute teacher they may apply online. 


Q: Will students learning at home be taught live the entire time, or will there be periods of independent work apart from direct teacher interaction?

A: Please see the Our Lady of Grace Virtual Academy document HERE for these details.


Q: Will students learning online from home have access to school-provided meal options?

A: Virtual Academy students will have the option to pick up meals at their respective GRACE school location. Students/families will be charged their free, reduced or paid meal eligibility price to pick up. At this time, we are reviewing pick up options that may be available per school. 


Q: Will parents receive any training for their students enrolled in online home learning?

A: Yes. We wish for students AND parents to be successful in the Virtual Academy option. More details related to both the teacher and parent commitments to the Virtual Academy can be found HERE


Q: Will teachers and students partaking in online learning be able to meet at all in person so as to build a connection?

A: At this time, there are no face-to-face interactions planned as we begin the year. 


Q: Is there a limit to the number of students who can choose online learning?

A: We will utilize our regular GRACE class sizes for the Virtual Academy learning option and monitor attendance closely to review staffing. 


Q: Will students learning online be provided any electronic devices?

A: Please consult the Our Lady of Grace Virtual Academy document HERE for this answer. 


WEEK 1: Questions and Answers


Q: What is the policy for masks and/or face shields?

A: For details, please click HERE.


Q: Will you be spraying chemicals in the schools? If so, what is being sprayed, will it be sprayed when children are present, and how often will cleaning occur?

A: We are in dialogue with a local company regarding additional cleaning/sanitation recommendations for our schools. More details on these options will be published once a decision is made. Safety is our first priority.


Q: What will virtual schooling look like for students whose families choose that option? Will there be live online teaching during the day? Will they be joining classmates online who are in the classroom?

A: Please consult the Our Lady of Grace Virtual Academy document HERE


Q: Will there be a learning option that mixes both in-person at school and at-home Continuous Learning?

A: We are planning for in-school (5 days) or online (5 days). There will not be an option that mixes both in-person and online at this time. 


Q: Will students be able to start with in-person learning at school and transition to at-home Virtual Academy learning during the school year, or vice-versa? And, if so, would students have the same teacher in both instances?

A: There will be a 10-day grace period for families at the start of the academic year allowing students to switch if it becomes apparent that the program chosen is not a good fit. Otherwise, changes between the two programs can only be made at the close of a trimester. 


Q: What is the protocol if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19? How does it impact that classroom or that school as a whole? And will the school community be notified?

A: The directions on protocols for COVID-19 symptoms have been drafted by the Brown County Health Department and were provided to schools on July 22. To see the draft please click HERE. Further discussions are planned with Public Health to confirm these details and guidance for our practices. 


Q: What is the contingency plan if schools need to close again because of COVID-19?

A: GRACE is developing a comprehensive Online Continuous Learning Plan should another “Stay At Home” order be issued. This plan will only be used for the face-to-face students as the Virtual Academy students will continue in that learning mode through a ‘Safer at Home” phase. 


Q: If schools have to close again, will preschool classes continue in an at-home Continuous Learning format?

A: In listening to our GRACE families, we plan to continue programming for preschool students as we progress forward. 


Q: Will temperatures of students and staff members be taken on school grounds before they enter the building?

A:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended against in-school screenings for symptoms of COVID-19 (please click HERE to read more), saying that they won’t catch asymptomatic cases and might flag other illnesses, like the common cold. It recommends that schools “strongly encourage” parents and guardians to monitor their children “for signs of infectious illness every day.”


Q: How are classrooms being changed to accommodate social distancing?

A: Each Site Planning Team is reviewing classroom space and set up. More information will be shared when it becomes finalized as each GRACE school will be sharing site-specific information.


Q: Will the same teacher be teaching both in-person in their classrooms as well as online for students?

A: No. 


Q: Will the students have lunch in a cafeteria?

A: Please refer to the Reopening Food Service webpage for this information. The link is HERE.


Q: Will the students have recess?

A: Yes. We are working site by site to develop safe and healthy protocols for regular recess for all students. 


Q: Will students change rooms for art, gym, library, music, etc?

A: School schedules are currently being reviewed and adjusted to reduce multiple teacher and student contact throughout the day. There will most likely be less student travel (and increased teacher travel to classes) to minimize overall travel throughout the day. However, we also realize some student movement is healthy and needed throughout the school day. 


Q: Notre Dame Academy is using a hybrid approach with students attending in-person learning and also at-home Continuous Learning during the week. Is that an option for GRACE as well?

A: At this time, we are unable to accommodate a hybrid approach. This decision is due to the young age of our students. In addition, staffing was also a consideration in this determination since we have numerous teachers with enrolled children. Teachers are unable to have their children home if they are teaching in the classroom/school. 


Q: Will parents have the option for a site walk-through before classes begin, in particular to see how social distancing will be implemented?

A: Please refer to the School Book Drop Night scheduled for your school to view classroom setup. In addition, some schools are using virtual tours or sharing photos of classrooms for families and students. 


Q: How will the pandemic affect required volunteer hours if volunteers aren’t allowed in the school?

A: The school Site Advisory Council (SAC) will work to make these decisions site by site. It will take some time to determine this decision, and it will most likely not be clear until well into the school year. 


Q: Which groups/agencies are you consulting with when making decisions in regard to COVID-19 safety?

A: For more information, please refer to the Reopening Planning Teams webpage (please click HERE) and Resources webpage (HERE). 


Q: Is there a threshold (of the number of COVID-19 cases, etc.) that would necessitate transitioning back to an at-home Continuous Learning format?

A: We will rely on the direction of the Brown County Health Department as they would have jurisdiction over this decision.