MADISON, Wis. — Flexibility will be key in reopening classrooms in Wisconsin's 421 public school districts amid the coronavirus pandemic, state officials said Monday in releasing guidance on the new school year.

The Department of Public Instruction said school districts should be prepared to shift between in-person, physically-distanced and virtual learning as they deal with changing aspects of COVID-19.

As new best practices develop, health and safety recommendations may change, state officials said.


Physical distancing to avoid contracting the coronavirus may mean reducing classroom size by having students attend school in staggered groups or in shifts, DPI said in its 87-page guidance plan.

The state Assembly's Education Committee scheduled a Wednesday hearing to discuss the reopening plan. Testimony will be taken from a variety of education stakeholders, including groups representing rural schools, religious and independent schools, the private school voucher program, the group that oversees athletics as well as school administrators and school boards.

Wisconsin schools shifted to distance learning in March as the coronavorus spread throughout the state. As of Sunday, there have been nearly 25,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state with 744 deaths, according to the state Department of Health Services. Of those who got the virus, 78% have recovered and 3% have died with the rest remaining active cases.