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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Crivitz School Board Votes To Open Outdoor Areas, Keep Buildings Closed

Issue Date: June 24, 2020

Concerns over the planned July 25 outdoor graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020, re-opening of school facilities when the state closure order ends on July 1, resumption of summer sports and plans for 2020-2021 in-school classes led to some lively discussions at the monthly Crivitz School Board meeting on Wednesday, June 17.

District Administrator Pat Mans said tentative plans are to re-open school in fall with things as close to normal as possible, but cautioned that things are so fluid right now that sometimes rules from the state change daily.

Mans said at Crivitz there most likely will be changes in scheduling to keep students in "cohorts" in classes, at lunch, and at recess, so that should there be a coronavirus case, exposure is limited to those in a limited group rather than the entire student body and staff.

"Our life in education administration has been a roller coaster, with rules changing constantly," Mans commented in explaining that nothing is decided for certain.

The board had a brief discussion but no decision as to whether or not students will be required to wear masks in classrooms or on busses. Mans said the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) was to come out soon with a new set of directives for resumption of in-person classes in the coming school year. The current school year officially ends on Tuesday, June 30.

Board member Amy Grandaw said her children and others who suffer from various allergies will not be able to tolerate masks.

Mans noted the school closing order expires on Tuesday, June 30, and if the board decided to do nothing, everything would return to normal effective Wednesday July 1.

There was discussion of hopes to hold the annual Craft Fair in the high school gymnasium, and on the possibility of resuming weight lifting and other strength-building activities, whether for students only or as usual in the past, offering use of the facilities to the public as well.

In a split 4 to 3 vote, the board voted to keep school buildings closed when the state orders to do that end on Wednesday, July 1, but to open outdoor school facilities for public use at that time, including ball fields. School sponsored sports events, however, will not resume until closer to fall.

That vote came after some in-depth debate, during which Mans several times advised the board that if they chose, they could do nothing and on July 1 the buildings and grounds would again be open to serve the public.

Gary Huc moved to keep the buildings closed, at least for now, and was supported by Mike Frievalt, Lyle Cherry and Board President Mike Dama. Voting against that motion were Kris Heidewald, Amy Grandaw, and Kayla Ihde.

Prior to the vote Heidewald commented if parents did or did not want their kids to come to sports and other activities, it should be their decision.

Grandaw argued that Crivitz is not Milwaukee or Madison. She said State Rep. Jeff Mursau suggested they should set rules at the conference level.

Dama felt they should not open buildings to anything other than what they were designed for - Crivitz students.

Huc suggested having a special board meeting after they have WIAA discussions, and that could be part of the discussion on Monday, June 29.

Mans said most school districts in this area are opening up outdoor facilities.

To comply with federal requirements on cost/charges the board approved a 10-cent per meal increase in lunch prices for next year. Cost of breakfasts will remain unchanged.

At the start of the meeting, several sets of parents had questions and concerns about the graduation ceremonies. There were some comments in favor of holding it sooner than July 25, but Mans appeared to echo the feelings of a majority of board members when he said they had changed the date once and would not do so again. He said, and others agreed, that families have planned vacations around the date, and family members from out of town have already have their travel plans in place.

Tentatively, the ceremony is scheduled to take place on a stage in the football field, but Dama commented, "Everything changes constantly. Nothing can be set in stone...There are multiple opinions sitting up here at this table, and the only firm decision is that something will happen on the 25th of July."

Mans said right now they plan to make the ceremonies as close to normal as possible, and to hold them at noon on July 25, on the football field so everyone can see everyone else graduate. Recommendation of the Wisconsin Department of Health is to not hold large indoor ceremonies. Mans said they are trying to take into consideration the wishes of most people, but feelings are mixed. "We are trying to find the sweet spot and make as many people happy as possible," he remarked, adding that until a few weeks ago, there was no way they could have planned anything close to a normal graduation ceremony. He said they are trying to make things as safe as possible for kids and families

Asked what sort of alternatives are being considered, High School Principal Jeff Bauman said if July 25 doesn't work it would be hard to set another date. However, alternatives could include a drive-through graduation, or even a spliced together video graduation, with diplomas received separately and then made into a video for all to share. "We can put together a graduation ceremony in six hours, we're that good at it," Baumann commented. Someone commented that rain halted Wausaukee's planned outdoor graduation the previous weekend, but an emergency board meeting that morning had moved it indoors.

One parent, concerned that a "second wave" of coronavirus is predicted to hit about mid-July, felt they should move up the graduation date.

Several of the parents present had no problem with the July 25 date, but hoped for a move to the High School gym if the weather on that date prevents an outdoor ceremony.

To concerns about people who "fear the spread," in regard to the graduation, the craft fair, sports events, etc., Grandaw commented, "If you are afraid, you don't have to go anywhere.... you can just stay home."

Mans said Wisconsin currently is about 85 percent open, and when they originally "caused an uproar" at Crivitz by moving graduation to the July 25 date, nothing was open.

Board Member Gary Huc said while the state orders requiring school properties to be closed schools will expire on July 1, there are recommendations that he felt they should not ignore as responsible board members.

Speaking from the audience, County Board Supervisor Ginger Deschane, who works in the health care field, urged the school not to forego in-person classes. "We're doing a disservice to our kids by not having them in school," she declared. She cited the very small number of cases here, and urged the board not to make decisions for Crivitz based on data from the cities.

Deschane said she has two children who are very compromised health-wise, and their pulmonologist has told her the flu is a lot more dangerous for them than coronavirus.

"We didn't close the school down, the state and the Center for Disease Control did," Mans responded. He said they should know more in about a week, and assured her the staff is working on contingency plans for safely re-opening.

Another parent said they need to know soon if school is going to be on again in fall, so they can plan ahead. If there is to be another year of on-line teaching, their children will be home schooled, he said, adding their children also will be home schooled if there is a mandatory vaccine, which he vehemently declared, "...is absolutely out...That's not going to happen!"

"As soon as we know, we'll let you know," Dama assured him. "We can't make a decision now."

Mans added that everyone understands if the state again says "close," they will need to close, "but right now we're looking at what we have control of here, in this community."

By unanimous vote the board decided to cancel the Nashville trip for band and chorus for this year. The trip contractor will refund 75 percent of the fees already paid toward the trip and the board voted without dissent to take whatever is needed from school general funds to reimburse students and chaperones the full amounts they have paid for a trip they will not be taking. The band director had said all the performances and other events they would have enjoyed have been cancelled in any case.

In other business at the meeting, Mans presented a plaque to Mrs. Doug Morrison, who is retiring after teaching in the Crivitz School District for 25 years.

Morrison commented she never had applied for a job at Crivitz, "I just kind of got roped into it." She said the scariest thing she had ever done was direct the choir at a concert opposite popular Band Director Bob Berndt.

Mans expressed "a huge thank you" to William Cherry, who donated $1,159 to pay all the past due lunch accounts for students in kindergarten through 8th grade.

High School Principal Jeff Baumann thanked Mark and Deb Tomaszewski from T&T Tree Trimming, Pete Tomaszewski of Middle Inlet Wood Products, and the Crivitz High School staff for donating a total of $1,050 toward perfect attendance and hard work drawings for the last day of school. Baumann said they were able to award 19 $50 first prizes - three for attendance and 16 for hard working virtual learners.

Baumann has been a staunch backer of rewarding students for perfect attendance by exempting them from final and semester exams, but said in view of the coronavirus issue and advice for students and staff to stay home if they are at all ill, "as much as it pains me," exemption from final exams for students with perfect attendance and satisfactory work levels can no longer be a policy. Semester exams will again be required for all students. Plans will be in place for social distancing while exams are in progress.

Plans are also being made in case virtual schooling again becomes necessary. "No matter what scenario we find ourselves in to start the next school year, the entire staff is moving to a Google Classroom format and many are going to start recording their classes so students can use the recordings as supplemental material even if the school is in a regular format," Baumann said.

As to an option of having students be in school on alternate days, Baumann said that will not happen - ""we're either going to be here, or we're not." He said during summer they installed cameras in each classroom, and teachers will be in school even if students are not. Two teachers are already recording their classes so they can be viewed by students who are absent.

To alleviate crowding elsewhere, they will open the gym during lunch hour to allow students to do a little more social distancing.

He said they do not have enough space to limit classrooms to no more than 14 students at a time, "but we're doing the best that we can."

He said several parents thanked some exceptional staff members, including Mrs. Robinson, for reaching out to their kids while in-school classes were not being held. "They wanted to express how great these teachers were!" he declared.

At both elementary and high school, teachers have planned for classes in case schools have to shut down again. They are also changing routines so students will go right into the buildings from the buses, and to their classrooms. He suggested having 400 kids on the playground might not be good for social distancing. There also will be only one class per grade level in the cafeteria at the same time and only one full grade level on the playground at the same time. He said the kids will be allowed time for fresh air and playing with classmates, but with more space. In the gym, instead of 60 to 70 at one time, they will have perhaps 40, and phy ed will be three days a week instead of five. They will encourage kids to use backpacks more to minimize visits to their lockers, which are very close together.

Buildings, Grounds and Transportation Director Tom White reported work began this week on the new building access system. The new clock, PA and bell system are in, and working as expected. Shite praised Camera Corner Connecting Point, the contractor who won the project, for doing a great job and being a pleasure to work with.

White welcomed Chad Schroeder to the custodial/maintenance team. He started June 1 as a lawn maintenance person and is doing a great job, White said.

Athletic Director Jeff Dorschner said the winter and senior sports awards banquet was held virtually this year, and there was no spring sports season to report on.

Community Ed Director Jolene Huc reported there will be no Movies in the Park program this year, partly because of $3,000 royalty fees for showing the movies. They would like to move forward with Art in the Park, but due to village restrictions they will be wearing masks. They would like to plant pumpkins in the Community Garden for picking by kindergartners in fall. They also want to hold a garden party, with enough space for everybody.

The board had first readings of a huge list of new and amended policies as recommended by NEOLA, including on governing religious or patriotic ceremonies and observations, and ones covering control of casual-contact communicable diseases, animals on district property, and epidemics and pandemics. Adoption of the policy changes is expected to come up for approval at the July board meeting.


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