Crivitz School Board Agrees: No Change In COVID RulesIssue Date: December 30, 2021
After long discussion at its meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 20, Crivitz School Board agreed to make no changes in the Covid-19 mitigation rules that have been in place since the start of the current school year. Classes remain in-person, masks are recommended but not mandatory, special cleaning protocols are used, and quarantine rules remain in effect for staff and students who have been exposed and have not tested negative. Free testing for students, staff and immediate family members is offered at the school.
As of Thursday, Dec. 23, a total of six students and no staff members were in quarantine, and there were four active cases reported - three students and one staff member. Three of the cases were new the week of Dec. 20.
Though some board members expressed concern about the effect of repeated quarantines on student learning, the overriding sentiment appeared to be that the rules in place since school opened in September are effective, and should not be changed.
To remain eligible for special ESSER III funds from the Federal government, at least once every six months school districts must review and adopt policies governing safe return to in-person instruction and a continuity of services plan, after providing an opportunity for public input at a board meeting. That was done at the Dec. 20 meeting. The meeting initially had been scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 15, but was postponed due to dangerous fog.
District Administrator Patrick Mans explained to the board at the Dec. 20 meeting that even though classes at Crivitz have been in-person through all of this year and the previous one, the district still must submit the plan as part of the ESSER application process. He said the plan is really just a listing of the various mitigation efforts and safety procedures the district has in place.
The plan states that wearing masks is highly encouraged; using the COVID-19 pre-screening checklist before entering school buildings is strongly encouraged; students and staff are encouraged to stay home or go home if they have symptoms or test positive, additional cleaning and sanitizing will be carried out, including fogging classrooms and areas known to be in contact with a person who tests positive. Sanitation stations are provided throughout the school buildings. Physical distancing is encouraged, and the district has increased the air exchange of HVAC units to improve air quality in buildings.
Anyone with symptoms must go home for 10 days or get a negative test result before returning to school. Anyone with close contact with people who test positive must quarantine for at least seven days. If tested negative on days 6 or 7, the quarantine ends, but if not tested a 10-day quarantine is required. Contact tracing will be used for known positive cases at school. The school issues Chromebooks which can be used if they need to move to virtual instruction.
The district has partnered with Wisconsin Department of Health to provide free testing to students, staff and parents on site at the school.
During time for public comment at the start of the meeting, Donna DeTemple urged the board to not make changes in the mitigation strategies that are working. She said the district's COVID rate had been three times higher than at the start of the school year.
Board Member Gary Huc said several people had contacted him on ways to mitigate the quarantine time, and commented, "I sort of favor following the CDC guidelines." this apparently would include masking, and a test to stay. His remarks indicated the rule would allow unvaccinated people to come to school only if they take multiple tests.
"We have looked at it, and do not recommend it," Mans said of the set of rules.
The nurse said the guidelines require masking for anyone unvaccinated, "...and has layers of mitigation that we are not currently doing."
Mans said the district had a high of 49 students and staff in quarantine on Friday, Nov. 18, 12 on Dec. 2, 20 on Dec. 10, and 17 on Dec. 17, "....and our positives are exceedingly low!" That was before the Dec. 23 count of six people in quarantine.
Board President Amy Grandaw wondered if it is necessary to cause worry for parents by putting the COVID rules on the board agenda every month, and suggested setting up levels of positive tests that would trigger a new discussion.
"I think it's important enough that we should have a discussion every month," Huc declared.
Mans said the levels fluctuate so much that it would be difficult to keep parents informed.
Board Member Mike Dama said they are making assumptions when they say vaccinations are safe, and added while he and his family are vaccinated, "I don't want people out there thinking we're judging them for failing to get their children vaccinated."
Mans said he agreed with that, but declared the vaccination information is based on the statistics out there, "...and they are safe." He repeated his opinion that for the safety of everyone, all children who are not vaccinated will need to be quarantined if they are exposed.
Board Member Kayla Ihde wondered, if the risk to those who have been vaccinated is very low, "What is the risk to the vaccinated if I choose not to vaccinate?"
Mans replied the children could potentially bring it home.
In a discussion between Ihde and Dama, Dama argued that continuing with what is working is a better business model than trying to find something better, which was the route Ihde preferred.
Ihde commented she and Dama were justified in making the business comparisons, and added, "We are in business....the business of educating kids."
Dama said the one thing he will not advocate for is mandatory masks..."We got creamed for that last year, so this year we didn't require them, and we're doing very well."
Ihde said keeping students home in quarantine harms their learning, and parents who need to work are instead required to stay home for a couple of weeks to take care of them.
Grandaw felt since the school has testing on-site now, "I don't think we should change anything now, but I do think we should look at it again." She said Green Bay schools had removed their quarantine requirements, but now require masking.
Ihde asked if they knew how many kids who were quarantined eventually tested positive, but Mans said they do not have that information.
Ihde said they have no idea how effective quarantining is, but do know they're keeping kids home when they're sick.
"NO...I wish we were!" Mans replied. "Parents do not keep them home. Often we have to send them home."
Board Member Kris Heidewald wondered just how concerned most people really are, "Last weekend we went to the football game, and there we were with 80,000 people." She also mentioned the well attended Christmas concerts.
To Ihde's request that Crivitz School District set up a system to get accurate statistics, Mans retorted, "The statistics show that the system we have is working!"
The discussion ended. Since they took no action the board tacitly agreed the current plan will remain in place, as Mans had recommended. The plan is posted on the District website and district residents will have another chance to comment at the next board meeting, which has been scheduled for Monday, Jan. 24.
Mans noted the plan must be reviewed and opportunity for public comment must be provided at least every six months from now until 2024, all the ESSER funds must be spent.
Earlier in the meeting, the board unanimously approved a request from Kenny Andrekopoulos to allow him and six other high school students to allow their club to start a Crivitz bowling team. Andrekopoulos had told the board their Coach/Advisor Sue Olson will be a volunteer and there will be no cost to the district. "She has a lot of experience in both bowling and coaching," Andrekopoulos said of Olson, adding, "She will make a great coach and in the event of an emergency, she is fully capable of making sure we are safe."
Andrekopoulos said fee for bowing has already been taken care of through Wausaukee Bowl, where they will practice, generally on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, and where they will hold some of their competitions. They will car pool as necessary to travel to practices and matches.
"This is a bunch of good guys," Middle/High School Principal Jeff Baumann had assured the board before their vote.
The board also approved hiring Billy Retza as varsity assistant track coach, Danielle Townsend and Tara Granius as substitute teachers, and Becky Arpke as a substitute clerical employee. A list of 10 volunteers/chaperones was also approved, as were first readings of a long list of NEOLA-recommended policy changes that had been reviewed by committee prior to the meeting and the school safety drill report that had been presented earlier in the meeting. A Start College Now class in health, safety and nutrition was approved to begin in spring.
A highlight of the meeting was a presentation on the district's state report card, in which Crivitz School District overall ranked with the highest rated schools in the area, with a ranking "solidly within the "Exceeds Expectations" category. Crivitz Elementary was at the top of the "Meets Expectations" category, and only one point from the "Exceeds Expectations" category. Middle School was in "Significantly Exceeds Expectations" category and High School in "Exceeds Expectations."
Mans said Crivitz ranked 110 out of 462 ranked high schools in Wisconsin on the U.S. News and World Report. putting it in the top 23 percent of all Wisconsin high schools.
Baumann said 69 percent of Crivitz scores exceeded the state average, and 86.9 percent of Crivitz are on track to graduate. The Elementary score of 60.1 was slightly below the state average, but 100 percent of kids improved in math skills.
"I've never seen that before," Baumann declared. "Not a single kid didn't improve in math!"
Baumann said attendance recently has "not been spectacular," and COVID didn't help. The graduation rate dropped from 91.6 to 91.2, which he called "shocking." He said when he started as principal 13 years ago it was almost shocking to have a student not graduate, and added, "We're working to get back to that!"
He said one of their main focuses is encouraging kids to graduate. Right now he could think of only two students at risk out of this year's 1small graduating class, "...and we're setting up therapies already."
Baumann said Crivitz student scores overall averaged 77.4 percent in the state testing, "so overall, it's a pretty darn good report card!"
Building, Grounds and Transportation Director Tom White reported on a lockdown drill that was held in both Crivitz school buildings at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 8. Staff had been asked to review lockdown procedures and prepare students for the drill ahead of time. White explained laws require districts to occasionally hold some kind of drill other than a fire drill to teach the staff how to react. "For the most part, staff and students did a great job of following our procedures," White said.
Mans said the district also does an adaptive "ALICE" program with the Sheriff's Department, and staff members will go through additional training in lockdown procedures at their February in-service.
In his regular monthly report, White told the board that the storm on Friday, Dec. 10 dumped several inches of heavy wet snow that taxed their snow removal equipment and required maintenance staff to work the weekend to get it cleaned up.
The storm also caused some heating system failures that were not discovered until early Monday morning. High winds on Thursday, Dec. 16 caused a temporary power outage at the high school. "In all cases, operations were returned to normal before the start of school," White said.
White and his staff helped set up for the elementary Christmas program held in the High School/Middle School gym on Dec. 13, as well as for the High School/Middle School concern in the auditeria.
He thanked North Countree Christmas Trees for donating the Christmas tree for the High School/Middle School lobby again this year, and to Mrs. Tomaszewski and her students for decorating the tree.
In his report, Mans also thanked North Countree Christmas Trees for donating the beautiful tree; to the music department and the rest of the elementary staff for their work in preparation for the elementary Christmas concert, and to Leonard Lutzow for making sure Santa was in attendance.
White reported the service entry doors for the new storage building at the MS/HS athletic field had arrived the previous week and were installed by Hideaway Builders. He was awaiting completion of the electrical work to be able to call the project complete, White said.
Baumann said a group of students from Mr. Sommerfeldt's business classes took their annual field trip last month to Green Bay to donate clothing and other items to the less fortunate. The main stop was a homeless shelter downtown where they donated clothing and were given a tour of the facility. The day ended with a stop at Altrusa House to drop off children's books for for children and families who stay there while family members are at Bellin and St. Vincent hospitals. "It was a terrific and humbling learning experience for our students," Baumann commented.
At a teacher inservice in December teachers discussed curriculum connections between grades 7 through 12, and which RTI (intervention) measures had been working.
Baumann talked about the middle/high school Christmas celebration for students in grades 7 through 12, including the annual faculty/staff basketball game. Baumann joked that they don't let members of the basketball team participate, but he was a little worried anyway because the senior class has a lot of good players who aren't on the team.
Elementary Principal Kelly Robinson reported there was a great turnout for the Christmas concert. "Mr. Allard and Mr. K had the students ready to perform, and perform they did," she said. She thanked Athletic Director Jeff Dorschner for setting up the streaming on the district's You Tube page.
Robinson said they had received a very generous donation from Crivitz Lions Club that was to go toward helping students in need during the holiday season. She said it had been put to good use.
Elementary teachers are using the open science lab that previously was used by middle school for science experiments and for expanding the amount of hands-on activities they can do with their classes.
Community Education Supervisor Jolene Huc said the Community Ed Board is still looking for someone to fill the vacancy when her resignation from the job becomes effective in April.
She said Wellness Classes continue to work with community needs. A CPR class was scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 8, and babysitting will possibly be offered with summer school, and soccer may be offered in spring. The Tiny Tumblers Holiday Dance had been cancelled until after the holidays.
All had gone well with the NEWCAP and Music Department Craft Show. Applications for the Spring show on Saturday, May 7 had been e-mailed.
The Woman's Club wanted to do a summer cooking program to teach kids healthy cooking. they had applied for a grant from the M&M Community Foundation and would limit the first 6-week class to 10 students. If there is enough interest, there could be a second group.
Next meeting for Community Ed was scheduled for Monday, Jan. 10.
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