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BOYCEVILLE — With the State’s emergency face coverings mandate set to expire September 28, the Boyceville Board of Education took action to update its re-opening plan to include monthly reviews of the face coverings at the regular monthly meeting held Wednesday, September 16 in the high school/middle school IMC.
Essentially, the board unanimously approved to insert or change the language in its COVID re-opening plan to not only include monthly reviews of its face covering policies but to continue with pandemic protocols past the September 28 expiration of the State Emergency mandate that went into effect August 1.
District superintendent Nick Kaiser began the discussion saying, “We approved our plan with the language that at the conclusion of the State mandate, we will require face coverings in all areas were social distancing guidelines cannot be maintained.”
“Due to where we are in the county and the recommendation that we would probably get from our health director, nurse and everyone else, I would like to revisit that (plan),” continued Kaiser. “You guys (the board) don’t have to make that, the choice is yours, but I would simply give you a recommendation that we don’t want to make any changes right now of where we currently are. I am not saying this makes a lot of changes, but I would recommend that we require face coverings at all times in our buildings through (and beyond) the mandate.”
Kaiser said that might change and that he was okay with revisiting the issue on a monthly basis or leaving it the same as was approved in the (original) plan.
Board president Tim Sempf said he could not image that it would not be extended.
“I know our staff would feel better with that (extending the plan) and our students have adjusted. I am hesitant at this point considering where our numbers (COVID) are in the county and where they are going with things to make a change anywhere that is backwards.”
Discussion ensued between board members and the administrative team.
Member Pete Score asked if the board did not take any action according to our plan, what’s going to happen.
“ We put in our handbooks that face coverings could be considered part of the normal school wear, so we want to say that we are requiring them. Either way, visitors are still required, that is in our language. We just didn’t know what was going to happen with the mandate. So, at the end of the mandate, assuming we were in a better spot but we’re not in a better spot than when we made that rule,” said Kaiser.
“Right now, in most classes students are still wearing masks, and will still have to wear them in the hallways, buses, standing in line,” stated Kaiser adding that the district should stay the course.
High School/Middle School principal Tyler Moy interjected, saying by not having that language more concrete in the plan that it would open up that six-foot social distancing for interpretation from student to staff.
“I believe having it more concrete would be beneficial,” said Moy.
Discussion continued for several more minutes until the motion was made and passed.
The September meeting started with an introduction of new staff members. Six new hires briefly introduced themselves to the board with plans to meet the other new editions at the October meeting. Coming before the board were: Amber Syverson, 4K teacher; Marki Wolf, kindergarten teacher; Christina Mittlestadt, 4th grade teacher; Taylor Pitt, 1-year position as elementary guidance counselor; Sarah Johnson, 1-year position FACE teacher; and Anna Petterman, paraprofessional.
The board then heard administrative reports from the building principals, special education director and superintendent.
First-year TCE principal DeeAnn Thompson said the open house was successful and that the first few weeks of school have been very busy but have gone well. She noted that the STAR, Fastbridge and Fountas and Pinnell assessments were being completed.
In her report, Thompson noted that the current enrollment at TCE, as of September 9th, was 370 students. The enrollment break down for each grade level is as follows: 40 in ELC, 46 in kindergarten, 36 in 1st grade, 52 in 2nd grade, 41 in 3rd grade, 50 in 4th grade, 56 in 5th grade and 49 in 6th grade.
Thompson also stated that 36 elementary students are enrolled in distance learning and 11 are being homeschooled.
Bonnie Barker, director of special education and school psychologist, told the board that September is National Suicide Prevention month and introduced a tool called, “Speak Up, Speak Out”, which was recently launched by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Office of School Safety. It allows students, teachers and staff member to submit anonymous reports if they are noticing concerning behaviors from a classmate. Barker also said the it can also be used to submit a report of bullying, threats or any other safety concerns at school. The website address is: https://speakup.widoj.gov/
Barker also stated that the special education department has been busy welcoming students back, developing Individual Education Plans (IEP) and discussing needs and services.
Tyler Moy informed the board that the Chromebook cases that were ordered arrived. All students in the middle and high schools now have cases on their Chromebooks including a charger. He said that the cases will help protect the computers which can be used with the cases in place.
Moy also noted that 14 percent of the middle and high school student population was learning remotely or in virtual format.
Superintendent Kaiser told the board that he has met with Sara Lipke of CESA 10, who has been working on getting the district’s live streaming capabilities up and running. The equipment has been set up and training will take place in the near future. This will allow the district to live stream events such as athletics.
Kaiser reminded the board that the annual meeting and budget hearing are slated for October 14 at 6:00 p.m. in middle school/high school IMC.
In other business, the board approved:
• The resignation of Jacque Dye as dance team advisor. The board then approved the hiring of Angie Olson for the same position.
• Blaine Leslie as junior varsity football coach.
• Pat Duetsch for the newly created position of custodial and grounds. Deutsch had served as the night custodian previously.
• Carol Schouten as the nighttime custodian at the high school/middle school to replace Pat Deutsch.
• A one-year leave of absence for the 2021-22 school year for high school/middle school guidance counselor Karlene Berry, following a closed session discussion.