By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — A committee comprised of Elk Mound school district staff members will begin meeting in mid-July to start planning for the fall semester in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district intends for school to start September 1, said Eric Wright, district administrator, at the Elk Mound Board of Education’s June 22 meeting.
With all of the issues surrounding COVID-19, administrators and staff will have to figure out what school will look like this fall, he said.
Since so much changes hour by hour and day by day concerning the coronavirus, the committee made up of staff members will wait until mid-July to start working on ideas and plans that will keep the safety of everyone in mind, Wright said.
The goal is to get the students back to face-to-face instruction, he said.
The state Department of Public Instruction recently issued guidelines for school districts to use when planning how they will re-open in September.
Schools in Wisconsin have been closed since March 19 to help slow the spread of the highly-contagious coronavirus.
As of Friday, June 26, there were nearly 2.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and 126,000 deaths. Wisconsin had just over 26,000 cases and 766 deaths.
Some of the suggestions from the DPI include in-person instruction four days per week with Fridays being reserved for disinfecting, sanitizing and deep cleaning; in-person instruction for half of the students with the other half doing distance learning from home on a rotating basis, either by days of the week or by weeks; in-person instruction for younger students with older students doing distance learning.
Other considerations will be how to keep students socially distanced in the classrooms and on school buses, frequent hand-washing and hand-sanitizing, and whether students should eat lunch in their classrooms rather than in a cafeteria.
The weight room at Elk Mound High School will be opening July 6.
Starting out with the weight room only will allow the school district to start educating students on the proper procedures to follow with COVID-19 in mind, Wright said.
Starting with the weight room also will start to build confidence in the procedures for re-opening, he said.
People who want to use the weight room will have to sign up, as a cohort, which will also help the Dunn County Health Department to do contact tracing if it becomes necessary, Wright said.
The current guidelines from the Dunn County health officer suggest no more than 25 people indoors, so if there are more than 25, half will be in the weight room and half will be in the gymnasium, he said.
Everything will be sanitized in between groups, Wright noted.
The groups will be allowed to use the weight room for one hour. The first group will be there from 7 to 8 a.m., with 30 minutes before the next group comes in to allow time for sanitizing. The next group would be there from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., with another half hour for sanitizing and so on, he said.
The high school will be the only building open in the school district, and the weight room will be available from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wright said.
As time goes on, the procedures will be evaluated, and adjustments will be made as needed, he said.
The weight room will only be open for July, and then the use of the weight room will be evaluated since football training could start on August 1, Wright said.
The Elk Mound Board of Education also reviewed preliminary drawings of the referendum projects at the June 22 meeting.
Representatives from CESA 10 and SDS Architects presented preliminary drawings of the additions for the new middle school gymnasium, the existing middle school gymnasium being turned into classrooms, and the band room and weight room additions at the high school.
The drawings are preliminary and will be reviewed a number of times, Wright said.
The $15 million referendum question in the Elk Mound school district was approved with 1,045 “yes” votes to 570 “no” votes during the April 7 election.
In other business, the Elk Mound Board of Education:
• Learned from Paul Kling, high school principal, that the next possible date for a graduation ceremony will be July 15. Whether a graduation ceremony can be held then will be based on guidance from the state Department of Health Services. The next possible date is August 5. If a graduation ceremony cannot be held August 5, a virtual graduation ceremony may be a possibility.
• Approved the budget variance report for 2019-2020. Based on the GASB 84 rule, the money in Fund 60 (activity fund) was transferred to Fund 21 (special revenue trust fund), and the money from Fund 72 (scholarship fund) also was transferred to Fund 21.
• Approved the open enrollment applications. The applications accepted were based on the numbers established at the January school board meeting.
• Approved the contract with MEP Engineering for the referendum project.
• Accepted the resignation of Bethany Burns, who taught fourth grade at Mound View Elementary.
• Received an update on the golf cooperative with the Colfax school district. The Colfax coach will be the head coach for the girls’ golf team.
• Declined to take action on a house coming up for sale next to Elk Mound Middle School.
• Approved the 66.03 agreement with CESA 10 for technology services with Mike Van Slambrouck.
• Confirmed that the next school board meeting will be July 20 at 6:45 p.m. The annual meeting and regular school board meeting will be August 24 at 6:45 p.m.
During a closed session, the Elk Mound school board:
• Approved hiring Katrina Auth as an occupational therapist.
• Approved hiring Angie Klemp as a regular route bus driver.
• Approved hiring Annie Kongshaug as a curriculum coordinator.
• Approved hiring Briana Kiesler as an elementary teacher.
• Approved hiring Ryan Grimm as the high school head volleyball coach.
• Approved hiring Stacie Nelson as a middle school dishwasher.