Carolyn Stanford-Taylor

Wisconsin's State Superintendent of School Carolyn Stanford-Taylor from a YouTube video. 

(The Center Square) –  Every school in Wisconsin currently has some form of in-person classes, but there are no guarantees all kids will be engaged in face-to-face classes next fall.

Wisconsin State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor on Tuesday wouldn’t commit to a back-to-school plan for the next school year.

“We have issued guidance around which kinds of things they need to be looking for, and ensuring that they have done in their building to be ready for students to return,” Stanford Taylor said. “But we have also advised them to listen to the advice of the health officials as to what is happening in their communities.”

Ultimately, Stanford Taylor was quick to say local schools ultimately make the final decision about who goes to class and when.

But Rep. Jesse Rodriguez, R-Oak Creek, pointed out that local schools are looking to the Department of Public Instruction to make their plans.

“Many school districts were telling us ‘We don’t know what to do. We’re looking for the [state] to tell us what to do’,” Rodriguez said to Taylor. “For those school districts who are currently uncertain if they should be back in person, what are you telling them? How are you helping them? What is your plan for them?

Stanford Taylor reluctantly admitted that getting kids back to in-person classes is probably best for learning, but said DPI’s number one priority is school safety.

“There are some things that you just can’t replicate in terms of relationships and those things,” Stanford Taylor said of in-person classes. “But [the] number one priority is to make sure that kids are safe and precautions have been made.”

Sen. Duey Streobel, R-Cedarburg, said DPI’s guidance mentions coronavirus safety, but not returning to in-person classes.

“In your goals of your Education Forward, you’ve got five bullet points and you do not list returning to in-person instruction as one of your bullet points,” Stroebel said. “That would seem to be a pretty important one.”

Stanford Taylor was at the Wisconsin Capitol Tuesday to testify about her budget request. She  is asking for more than $1 billion in additional state dollars in the next budget. That is on top of $2.5 billion in federal stimulus money schools in Wisconsin have received or will receive.