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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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By 4 to 3 Vote Crivitz Board Keeps Masks For This Year

Issue Date: February 24, 2021

Concern over negative impact of Covid-19 rules and restrictions again occupied much of the discussion at a long, hard Crivitz School board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Near the end of the meeting the board, by a narrow 4 to 3 split, voted as requested by Superintendent Patrick Mans to continue requiring students and others entering the school buildings to wear masks for the remainder of the current school year, whether or not the state masking mandate is lifted.

Voting to keep the mask mandate in place were board members Mike Frievalt, Gary Huc, Lyle Cherry and President Mike Dama. In favor of lifting the mask requirements as soon as possible were Kris Heidewald, Amy Grandaw and Kayla Ihde.

However, they agreed to allow students to hold a Junior/Senior prom, probably in late April or early May, and eased some of the recommendations for that event to allow Crivitz students to bring boyfriends or girlfriends from other schools as their dates. The only observers allowed will most likely be parents of Prom Court members.

The board agreed to let administrators put prom rules together in line with the board's discussion.

In other action the board approved an updated facility needs plan as explained by Building, Grounds and Transportation Director Tom White, approved an overnight cheer leading trip to Wisconsin Dells as presented by Kellie Stumbris, accepted the resignation of Ali Weber as JV Girls Volleyball Coach, and approved Nancy Dahlin as a part-time special education para-professional. They also approved Becky Arpke, Matt Robinson and Paige Florek as substitute paraprofessional employees; Brian Arpke, Taylor Bemis, Heidi Harding and Justin Kroll as volunteer coaches, and Tina Baye and P J Doering as Community Education Advisory Council members.

In addition to members of the school board and administrative team there were 17 people in the audience, including a number of teachers.

During time for public comment at the start of the meeting, Becky Arpke, speaking as a parent, strongly urged the board to stop requiring masks as soon as possible.

"There's a lot of risk in a lot of things," she declared. "I wish for me to make the decisions in regard to my children!"

Ginger Deschane, who is a professional nurse and caregiver for handicapped children, agreed with her. "What we are doing to the kids is horrifying!" she declared. She said only one person in 10,000 diagnosed with Covid-19 in Wisconsin needs to be hospitalized, cited various ways, physical and emotional, in which masks are harmful to kids, and concluded vehemently, "You are responsible for our kids and I will hold you to that!"

Several teachers in the audience spoke in favor of continuing the mask requirements, including one who said what they are currently doing is working to keep students and staff in the building for in-person classes, and urged, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it!"

Another teacher, who said she is also a mom, praised administrators and Nurse Cindy Kubicek for what they have been doing, and declared, "Our students have not missed a beat"They're learning, and they're interacting with their teachers."

"I don't think the masks are causing mental problems for our students," another declared.

Before voting on the mask issue Heidewald asked if many students complain about the masks. High School Principal Jeff Baumann said there are "a couple of kids who are pretty obstinate and like to rebel against it," and they get written up, mainly for wearing the mask beneath their noses.

Elementary/Middle School principal Kelly Robinson said the elementary students are more adaptable, but some of them also do rebel.

Mans said he had been "unbelievably, pleasantly surprised" to see how compliant kids are with the mask requirements, and said it has been easier to enforce than cell phone use rules.

In his report to the board, Mans noted classes were cancelled on Thursday, Feb. 4 because of the predicted snow storm. He agreed they could have had half a day of school, but they had decided not to risk having busses bringing students home on dangerous roads if the storm had begun as early as predicted. "It can be challenging to make that call," he declared.

He said the district will be receiving an additional $500,000 in aid to deal with the Covid pandemic, and this time the money can be used through 2023, and will be a welcome addition to their budget.

In regard to Covid, he was pleased to report they have been able to keep students in school on a regular 5-days per week schedule, with very few closures.

Monday, March 1 is the first days staff members become eligible for Covid vaccinations, and information has been provided to them. There is no cost for the vaccines administered by Prevea and Bellin clinics, but there may be a charge to administer them, which will be covered by insurance.

Baumann reported that thanks to a great deal of planning done by Mrs. Graves this year's ACT and Aspire testing schedule had been completed. The ACT test will be proctored on Tuesday, March 23, and on that date freshmen and sophomores will have a day of virtual schooling while juniors will take the ACT test and seniors will give their Academic and Career Planning presentations.

The Aspire test will be given to freshmen and sophomores on Tuesday, April 13, and on that date juniors and seniors will have a day of virtual schooling. Baumann said the schedule had been altered in that fashion to accommodate social distancing with the number of rooms required to proctor the tests.

Baumann told the board there are currently 25 high school students who attend virtual schooling, down from the high point of 54 during the first semester. He said after first semester grades were finalized the total number of Fs earned by students was slightly higher than usual, and the percentage of virtual students earning F's was significantly higher than those who attended virtual schooling.

Baumann said the parent/teacher conferences on Wednesday, Feb. 10 were again virtual, "and again were lightly attended like the February conferences tend to be." He said with all the recent cold weather the spring break coming up in two weeks will be particularly welcome "if we finally get some spring-like weather!"

Elementary/Middle School Principal Kelly Robinson reported parent/teacher conferences were handled differently. Due to COVID they were again virtual. Teaches reached out to parents to schedule conferences either over the phone or via Google Meet, and Elementary teachers sent information to parents on how their students were doing and then followed up with parents who requested it.

Middle School teachers sent e-mails to all parents and those who wanted to follow up contacted the teachers.

With state testing around the corner, Robinson said they are working on schedules that will bring virtual students into the building to complete their testing while keeping them safe and distanced from other students.

She and other staff members are woking with WPTO to do some extra activities to celebrate Literacy March 1 through 5, for Read Across America Week. There will be door decorating, dress up days, and a read-a-ton day.

Community Education Director Joleen Huc reported on proposed classes and summer school activities, including mental health classes and a sex education class for parents that may address how to talk to their kids about sex. They are working on Bingo cards of things to do in the community. "We are always encouraging people to join us," Huc said, and invited anyone interested in serving on the Community Education Board or wanting to attend its meetings to contact her. The next meeting will b on Monday, March 8.

Nurse Kubicek reported Covid seems to have peaked November and December, and numbers are now dropping. Wisconsin is still at a "high" level in number of cases diagnosed, down from previous "very high" and "critically high" levels. There were 56 Crivitz students with positive Covid tests, and 24 staff members. Currently there was one active case.

She noted that from 2019 through 2020 there had been no hand, foot and mouth cases, no flu and no strep, and all these diseases have symptoms similar to Covid.

She said the essential elements for preventing the spread of Covid are masks, social distancing, hand washing, cleaning and sanitizing, and contact tracing done in combination with the Health Department in accord with CDD guidelines.

On the subject of the prom, Mans said most districts are having proms, and usually they are being held in school

Grandaw said she struggled with the idea of not allowing freshmen and sophomores to attend, and noted that everyone missed the prom last year. She predicted a low number of students would attend any way, and also wondered why they should limit students from other schools, since they are together all the time anyway.

Dama agreed with Grandaw on most of this, but felt a mask mandate may be in place even for the prom, and said he agreed with limiting the number of parents allowed to come and observe. He noted they allow basketball, football and wrestling competition with other schools, "and then we're not going to allow students to bring their chosen date to the prom?"

Heidewald agreed with Grandaw, and with Dama's comments regarding students being allowed to bring their boy friend or girl friend who may be from another school.

Mans said the information in regard to the prom rules was what other districts are doing, not necessarily his recommendations, and added he had been asked to put the prom on the agenda for discussion.

Cherry felt they should have the prom in late April, and then have a book at the door for contact tracing in case it's needed, and perhaps do a temperature check at the door. He added, "There's only one prom each year and I'd hate to see them miss it again!"

Turning to discussion on graduation, Mans suggested it might look a little like last year, which he felt went very well. He said holding it outdoors allowed a lager number of people to attend.

Baumann noted there will be only 42 to 44 graduates this year, the smallest graduating class ever.

Heidewald preferred holding it in the gym so grandparents would not need to stand at the fence. She said the gym holds 1,500 people and family members could sit as a group.

Heidewald noted graduation had been delayed because of rain last year, and an outside ceremony includes that risk.

Baumann suggested he and Mans should talk with members of the graduating class and their families to see what they prefer.

Huc felt that would be okay, "with the understanding there would need to be mitigating practices in place."

Heidewald asked if there was any way, other than paying for it, to have the graduation ceremonies presented on Facebook if graduates are limited to four tickets each, and was told that could be done.


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