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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 46 Colfax school district families have enrolled their students in a virtual learning option as of August 17 rather than sending their children to in-person five day per week instruction.
The 46 families account for 76 students, said Polly Rudi, director of special education and pupil services, at the Colfax Board of Education’s August 17 meeting.
Of those who are enrolled for virtual classes, 53 are elementary students and 23 are middle school or high school students, she said.
Parents have until August 25 to make a final decision on virtual learning, Rudi said.
Of the 76 students enrolled in virtual learning, Rudi estimated that 30 percent of them are special education students.
The special education students who are signed up for virtual classes tend to be in one of two different situations, she said.
Some parents were surprised to learn that their special education students learned better online when schools were closed last spring because of the pandemic, or they are concerned that the changes in school, such as the requirement to wear a mask, the need for social distancing and the plexiglass barriers, will be too much of a distraction or too difficult for their special education student to deal with, Rudi said.
The back-to-school plan the school board approved on August 5 has received some favorable comments, said William C. Yingst Jr., district administrator.
The parents who have commented believe the plan is well thought out, he said.
The district’s principals, Trevor Hovde, Colfax Elementary, and John Dachel, Colfax High School and Colfax Middle School, are working on the specifics of implementing the back-to-school plan, he said.
The middle school plan and the high school plan for having students in the building were expected to be placed on the school district’s website by the end of the week
The school district also has installed plexiglass along the lunch serving lines, Yingst said.
The food service workers will place food and utensils on the trays, and the students will only touch their trays at the end of the food service line, he said.
The school district also will have dividers on the lunch tables in the form of an “x” to allow four students to sit at a table, Yingst said.
Students are encouraged to come to school August 25 and August 26 to help them become acquainted with the new procedures, he said.
School officially starts September 1, and while the August 25 and August 26 days, which are included under summer programming rather than the regular school year, are highly encourages, they are not mandatory, Yingst said.
In other business, the Colfax Board of Education:
• Learned that the school district’s payment for exempt computer aid for this year is $235.91. The program is based on personal property tax exemptions for computers, cash registers and fax machines throughout the school district that are reported to the state, Yingst said, noting that if the computers, cash registers and fax machines are not reported, the school district is unable to receive aid for them.
• Learned that the school district received $14,513.08 from the e-rate program (universal schools and libraries program) that provides discounts of up to 90 percent to help eligible schools and libraries have affordable telecommunications and Internet access. The program covers items such as fiber optic cable, phone service discounts and discounts on technology, such as firewalls for computers.
• Accepted the resignation of Corey Adams, middle school and high school science teacher.
• Approved hiring Erin Brecka as the middle school/high school science teacher. Brecka holds teaching licenses in physics, science and biology/life science.
• Approved hiring Cheryl Becker as a sixth grade teacher. Becker has been a substitute teacher in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire and Elk Mound. She is a United States Army Reservist as well and served as a carpentry/masonry specialist in Milwaukee from 1994 to 2002.
• Approved additional applications for the Early College Credit Program. Chippewa Valley Technical College has extended the opportunity. Some of the applications were already approved last spring.