Waterford running back Parker Peterson (23) takes a handoff from Aiden Webb on a reverse during a game against Burlington Oct. 9. Waterford’s next two games – at home against Badger Oct. 16 and at home against Union Grove Oct. 23 – have been postponed and could be canceled depending on the status of players affected by a COVID-19 outbreak at the school. (Photo by Mike Ramczyk)

WUHS shifts to hybrid model; football games ‘postponed’

By Mike Ramczyk

Correspondent

Due to a high risk of community transmissions, and Waterford Union High School being identified as having an outbreak in Western Racine County, the school was forced to move to a hybrid model Monday, Oct. 12.

The shift will last at least through the end of October. No decisions have been made regarding November, according to information recently sent to district parents by the school district.

The effects of the COVID-related quarantines have also apparently taken a toll on the school’s football team, which postponed Friday’s night’s scheduled game against Lake Geneva Badger.

     A post on the school’s student fan section Instagram page said the next two games had been canceled, which would also include an Oct. 23 game at home against Union Grove. The Southern Lakes Conference currently lists both games as “postponed,” but does not provide alternative dates.

The shift to a hybrid educational model occurred because the school’s quarantine rate rose to greater than 16 percent, active cases reached more than 1 percent of the students and continue to grow and student transmissions happened in school.

This is a signficant change from what Waterford was doing, which was a five-day, in-person model that didn’t change after the first few cases of COVID-19 two weeks ago.

“Never before has the ability to lead been more challenging,” said Superintendent Luke Francois. “The ever-changing dynamics make for a daunting task to stay in front of whatever comes next. The district is teaming the challenges of today to make the best opportunity possible during this difficult time.

“Yes, this time in history is temporary,” he added. “The road ahead is riddled with curves, but things will straighten out eventually if we stay the course.”

The school is at high risk, along with the Waterford community.

Last Friday’s home football game against rival Burlington, a spectacle that would normally draw thousands to the football field, was regulated with restrictions on attendance.

The sparsely populated bleachers weren’t as deafening as in the past, and no fans hung out on the hill adjacent to the stadium. Students and fans who were in attendance wore masks.

“The community did a great job of adhering to rules put in place and, in turn, our student-athletes continue to have the opportunity to compete,” Francois said.

The district considered closing the building completely or moving to a 100% virtual environment but decided the hybrid is the better intermediate option.

While in hybrid, the district experienced zero active cases among students, followed by a rapid increase to over 10 active student cases after shifting to in-person instruction, the letter to parents states.

By decreasing the daily student population, physical distancing will be ensured in most locations throughout the school day, thus reducing the number of close contact students placed on quarantine in the event of more positive COVID-19 cases.

      For more on this developing story, see the Oct. 23 edition of the Waterford Post.