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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Crivitz Classes To Be Mask Free And In Person For 2021-2022

Issue Date: July 29, 2021

The Crivitz School Board meeting on Wednesday, July 21 drew a standing-room-only crowd to the board room, most of whom were there seeking assurance that their children will be back in school this fall, in person and without masks.

â€This board, as a body, in April or May made the decision to end masks in this school ,†District Administrator Patrick Mans assured them.

They also were assured that there is no option to choose at-home education this year, and barring any major changes, students will be in the school buildings in person for classes.

The meeting began with public comments, but the rules for Covid-19 mitigation for the 2021-2022 school year were on the agenda for board discussion later in the meeting.

At the outset of the board's discussion Mans said this was his 13th year in the Crivitz District, his 11th as superintendent, â€...and at all meetings, members of this board...to a person.. have made decisions based on what they feel is best for the district.†He added those decisions are often difficult, as they affect more than 700 students, as well as parents who feel very strongly about issues.

Mans added that masking was not an option for most of last year, â€That was foisted upon us by powers beyond those on this board.†He repeated that the board has adopted a policy that masks are no longer required, and to change that, a motion would be required.

Grandaw said the overall Covid precautions could include masking, social distancing, quarantine policies, and cleaning and sanitizing practices.

She noted the board had previously decided masks are optional. Parents can ask their children to wear them, but the school will not require it. As to social distancing, â€We're done with that,†Grandaw said.

She felt, and board members indicated agreement, that they should keep up the cleaning and sanitizing practices and products adopted because of Covid, â€...that's just good hygiene.â€

The elephant in the room, she felt, is contact tracing, shutting down classes, and quarantine rules for people who may have been exposed.

â€I really don't care how we do it, but I want to keep the kids in the classroom...I'm not in favor of virtual,†declared Board Member Lyle Cherry.

Grandaw noted they had already agreed they would not have a virtual option. She wondered if they could have a quarantine room for students who had been exposed.

Board Member Kris Heidewald commented last year her granddaughter had missed 31 days of school because parents ad/or their teacher had tested positive, and none of the students exposed had tested positive.

Board Member Gary Huc asked Mans for his opinion. Mans said last year they had followed CDC and Wisconsin Department of Health guidelines. Huc remarked they do not yet know what those will be for the coming year. Mans said they do â€sort of know†that they will not be as strong as they were last year. He said as administrator it is his job first and foremost to look out for the heath and safety of the kids, and after that, their education. He noted Legal Counsel Kalny had advised that one of the duties of this board was to mitigate risks, and that has to be based on recommendations and guidance. â€There's risk in saying we're not following anything, we're going back to pre-Covid,†he declared and asked, â€How much risk are you, as a board, willing to take?â€

Grandaw said part of their problem is the CDC recommendation that masks be required for everyone under age 12 who is not vaccinated, â€but we're no doing that...and they are absolutely the least at risk.

â€I feel it's the people's choice to wear masks or not wear masks, to get vaccinated or not get vaccinated,†said Huc.

Grandaw said the board is a year smarter than it was last year. She felt they should set guidelines for things as they are now, and possibly have an emergency board meeting if things change. She said science has shown that Covid does not spread at school.

Cherry said last year he felt he had to go along with the mask mandate, â€...but now I feel we're done. It will keep coming back for 20 years. ...we have to keep normal...if you're sick, stay home. My goal this year is to have everybody back in school.â€

Board Member Kayla Ihde wondered if it would hurt to say we recommend following the mask rule, but not make them do it.

Heidewald felt anyone who truly feels masks are the right thing should wear them.

Grandaw said the board needed to let administration know what they should do if a student tests positive for COVID, and that was the only guideline they still needed to set.

Huc asked if staff has weighed in, and Elementary/Middle School Principal Kelly Robinson said it is hard for them, but added, â€They want everyone safe and back in their seats.â€

Teacher Brett Meyers said there are people in the community who are nervous about this, and they do need guidelines for teachers.

There was general agreement with Grandaw's comments that parents need to keep their kids home when they are sick, and Huc added they need to remove penalties for missing school. Ihde wondered if anyone showing mild symptoms could be asked to wear a mask for a few days.

Mans commented many parents have to work, â€...and they send kids to school sick every single day.â€

High School Principal Jeff Baumann, who has long fought to reduce absenteeism, asked how many times a year a student could stay home because they â€had symptoms,†and added one had done this nine times last year.

The board agreed if students stay home because of exposure it will be mandatory for them to keep up with their homework.

Meyers said the guidelines need to be clear so Nurse Cindy Kubicek â€doesn't take a beating from parents who are angry because she sent their child home.â€

Robinson suggested a compromise, that kids would be sent home if ill, but be allowed to come back when their symptoms are gone. Last year they had to either have a negative test or be symptom free for 10 days.

Mans said any student with a temperature over 100 degrees, or throwing up should have to stay home.

Mans wondered if the board wanted to set some guidance for increased restrictions and building or classroom shut-downs, for example a specific number of cases. Huc wondered if they should make it automatic, or trigger an emergency board meeting. He suggested if over five cases were in a building they should call a special board meeting. Mans noted last year the sixth case triggered shutting down a building. High School was closed for one week last year.

Robinson noted if they do need to shut down a building this year they have Google Classroom so classes can continue at home. Last year they did not.

Next issue was busses. â€I've researched this top to bottom,†Mans declared. He said the WASB lawyers asked if school busses come under CDC rules for masks on public transportation. Kalny said they are affected, â€but there isn't a lot of enforcement.†However, Kalny did recommend following the CDC rule.

Mans said Lamers Bus Service is going to just strongly recommend wearing masks on busses, but not require it.

Heidewald asked how the Crivitz bus drivers feel about it.

â€Last year was absolutely the worst year of my life,†declared a school bus driver in the audience. She said she has a vision problem and cannot wear a mask without her glasses fogging up, â€So as a driver, if I have to wear a mask, I cannot see.†She said, and added that for drivers to enforce masks on the kids aboard is almost impossible, â€we have to drive.â€

â€It's kind of silly to require masks on busses but not in school,†Grandaw felt. She said the school busses are certainly not public transport, since only kids are allowed to ride them.

Another driver in the room opposed requiring family group seating, because kids fight a lot less when they're sitting with their friends. Another suggested if they need to contact trace they can do it with an assigned seating chart.

Robinson said one thing at the elementary school that changed because of Covid and will not change back is the parent pickup and drop off procedures. At drop off parents stay in their vehicles, and after school parents of very young students come into the cafeteria and students are brought there.

Huc was concerned that students still need to stay outside if they are dropped off early. Robinson said if it is below zero they can come into the gym. This year will be back to normal with kids on the playground, Robinson said.

There was brief discussion on parents who do not follow the morning drop-off rules and kids almost getting hit. That brought a suggestion that perhaps the PTO would get some volunteers to serve as crossing guards. Huc recalled that before Covid struck Community Ed had talked about starting a crossing guard program.

Mans said he will get the policies in writing in line with the board discussion and get it back to them.

There were more than 30 spectators in the room in addition to board members and school staff.

At the June meeting recently elected Board President Amy Grandaw had been publicly scolded by some fellow-board members for refusing to wear a mask at meetings and elsewhere, despite a board policy to the contrary.

Grandaw opened the July 21 meeting with an admonition to everyone to â€Remember to be kind and respect one another's opinion.â€

The first of the speakers during time for public comment at the July 21 meeting was Kim Hansen, who declared, â€I'm disgusted by what I heard at the June meeting...This mask issue brings out the worst in everybody!†She said the board had bullied Grandaw for standing up for things hundreds of district residents believe.

â€Are you going to represent us...or the CDC? another speaker asked, and declared, â€We need a board that represents us and our opinions.†He also berated the board for â€ganging up†on Grandaw.

â€I'm here again because I want the school to be mask free,†Brian Pomeroy declared. He added parents need to know in time to make open enrollment decisions as to where their children will attend school He also termed the board's treatment of Grandaw as â€terrible.â€

Still another speaker said he is deciding between sending his children to Crivitz or Coleman, and he attended the most recent Coleman board meeting. They only way they will require masks in school is if WIAA refuses to allow athletic competition for schools without mask mandates. He also objected to the quarantine procedures last year that kept so many kids out of school so long without need.

Asked if they could go around the table to get board opinions on masks and other Covid-19 rules, Grandaw said the issue was on the agenda for the board later in the meeting.

One woman said the University of Dubuque refused to allow their Cross country team to come to Wisconsin because masks were mandated. That school did not require masks and kept in-person classes.

Dave Bentzler said he was at the meeting representing himself and a dozen other parents who could not attend. He said they would decide after this meeting if their children would attend school in Crivitz or if they would hire a bus or arrange other transportation for them to go to Coleman. If masks are required at Crivitz, they will go to Coleman.

As to the board's discussions in June, he said some seemed to feel the board should present a united front, while he felt some disagreement, discussion and debate is good.

A speaker said he has an autistic son for whom masks are a special problem because he needs facial expression to communicate.

Another felt as parents they were responsible enough to decide if their children should or should not wear masks.

In more ordinary business, the board approved formation of an Elementary Student Council with Toni Spalding as faculty advisor, accepted resignation of 6th grade teacher Shell Vold and hired Zachariah La Croix as the IT support specialist.

The board adopted the 2021-2022 Common Core and Wisconsin State Academic Standards, which are the same as last year.

The board approved raising the pay for short-term substitute teachers to $120 per day to remain competitive with other school districts in the area.

Preliminary budget figures and probable state aid for the coming year were also discussed.


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