OSSEO/FAIRCHILD, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – With schools set to open around the area in the next week, we hear about the reopening plan for another local school district. First News at Nine’s Phoebe Murray takes us to Osseo-Fairchild.

With less than a week until schools open their doors for the fall semester, one area district is ready for action. Osseo-Fairchild Superintendent Lori Whelan says they had been ordering p-p-e early-on into the COVID pandemic and are finding what works for them.

Lori Whelan, Osseo-Fairchild District Superintendent said, “This is an example of a prototype. It’s called a badger shield plus. It is a face shield with the mask portion underneath. It allows the teachers to be wearing a face covering at the same time it allows the students to see the teachers.”

“So we have ordered this for staff as well as student sizes for students who are having difficulty with a mask or need to communicate more effectively with our teachers.”

As far as fall sports go, Whelan said, “currently right now any contact sports are being restricted because we are at a high-risk in our county.”

Whelan says they’re moving forward with non-contact sports while the county will closely monitor when or if they get the go-ahead to begin contact sports.

Down the street at the district’s elementary school, 3rd grade teacher Kalli Peterson and mom to a second grader of her own knows how formative these early years for the kids can be.

Peterson said, “I just think that social and emotional growth is so key in these years, and that a lot of our kiddos don’t have that support at home or they don’t have the structure and they just benefit from our routines, from our consistency, from day to day and it’s about the relationships.”

Here at Osseo-Fairchild Elementary, 49 out of 365 students have opted for all virtual learning. While here at the high school, 80 percent of students are coming back five days a week.

The district says that it will take on each day as it comes or as Peterson heard, “it’s kind of like building an airplane as you’re flying,” said Peterson.

Back at the Osseo-Fairchild high school, physics and chemistry teacher Joseph Philips says with providing three options of learning. Either in-person, blended virtual or full virtual; they are ready for any scenario.

Joseph Philips Osseo-Fairchild High School Teacher said, “I wouldn’t say that we have too many reservations here because we’ve covered so many bases, but I think it all comes back to the kids.

“We have so many services that our community depends on and we want kids to have access to that. As teachers do, we know there’s a risk involved sure, but we know that the kids come first.”

The support doesn’t end with academics. The school district has gone above and beyond to be there for their students during the pandemic.

“Over the summer since our school closures, our school district was able to serve 125,000 meals to our students in the Osseo and Fairchild communities. Just seeing that impact and what it has done for our community is pretty cool,” said Whelan.  

On top of that, donations from local businesses flooding in have provided enough school supplies for early-childhood through 12th grade.

Whelan said, “We’re excited to have our students back, whether they’re on-site or virtual, I think it’s important they connect with their teachers and their staff.

In Trempealeau County, Phoebe Murray, First News at Nine