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Colfax Veterans Day program will be virtual this year

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — If you have ever attended one of the Colfax school district’s Veterans Day programs, you know the district pulls out all the stops to honor the area’s veterans.

In past years, the program has included patriotic songs performed by the elementary school classes and more patriotic songs performed by the middle school band, the high school band and the high school choir.

The event has also included keynote speakers, readings done by the students and roses handed out to the spouses of veterans — dozens of roses.

The gymnasium at Colfax High School has been packed with veterans, their families and members of the community, to the point where there is nothing left but standing room only.

This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic — which had a record number of cases in the state reported on October 27 of 5,262 and also reports that it took Wisconsin seven and a half months to reach the first 100,000 cases of the disease and only 36 days to reach the second 100,000 — the gymnasium at Colfax High School will be empty this year on Veterans Day.

But that does not mean there will be no Veterans Day program.

Quite the contrary.

The Colfax school district’s Veterans Day program will be offered virtually on the school district’s website.

The various classrooms will be videotaping their part of the program, under the direction of the district’s music teachers Carrie Christensen and Derek Westholm, and then Westholm, who is enormously talented at editing different segments together to make virtual concerts, will be putting all of the individual parts together to make one program, said William C. Yingst Jr., school district administrator, at the Colfax Board of Education’s October 26 meeting.

The Veterans Day program DVD will be live-streamed at 10 a.m. November 11 on the school district’s website, he said, noting that all of the classrooms will be watching the program at the same time as well.

The Veterans Day program will be archived on the school district’s website so if people cannot watch it at 10 a.m. November 11, they will be able to watch it later, Yingst said.

Copies of the Veterans Day program DVD will be made available to the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center and to any veterans in the area who would like a copy, he said.

To watch the Colfax school district’s Veterans Day program either at 10 a.m. November 11 or at a later time, go the district’s website at www.colfax.k12.wi.us. In the middle of the page under “Quick Links,” you will find the link to Viking TV.

COVID-19

As of the date of the Board of Education meeting, the Colfax school district does have students and staff who are currently quarantined because of COVID-19, Yingst said.

Four or five school districts in the surrounding area are switching from in-person instruction to online instruction or are going to a hybrid model where students are in school on some days and are learning online other days, he said.

“It’s a matter of if or when. If we get to Thanksgiving without a closure, we would be doing pretty well,” Yingst said.

KT Gallagher, director of the Dunn County Health Department and the county’s health officer, has said during her weekly COVID-19 updates that while transmission of the virus does not appear to be happening between students and staff while they are at school, students are coming into the schools infected with the virus.

The school district cannot control what happens outside of school that results in spikes of COVID-19 cases, Yingst said.

During a discussion of the school district’s harm reduction plan, Yingst noted a statewide mask order is in effect until November 21 and that the Colfax Board of Education had decided on August 5 to require everyone to wear masks in school.

Under the circumstances with surging cases of the coronavirus, “we would be fools to change the policy. We should keep what we have in place,” said Ken Neuburg, school board member.

Jodi Kiekhafer, school board member, asked how the school district was faring in being able to order supplies like masks and hand sanitizer.

Teri Ruff, school nurse, keeps an eye on supplies, and she orders when necessary. So far, there have been no issues with getting supplies, Yingst said.

Since the Board of Education is in agreement about keeping the harm reduction plan in place, there is no need for a motion, said Todd Kragness, school board president.

As of Friday, October 30, Dunn County was reporting 1,130 total cases of COVID-19, an increase of 28 cases over the day before, with eight people being hospitalized and 225 active cases.

Meals

The United States Department of Agriculture has extended the “summer school option” of free meals to students because of COVID-19 until the end of the school year on June 30, 2021, Yingst said, noting that students who want breakfast and lunch do not have to pay for their meals.

At the end of the 2019-2020 school year and last summer when students were not able to be at school, bus drivers delivered school meals to students who requested them. Parents could also pick up meals at school, if they chose.

The USDA initially extended the free meals for students through December 31, 2020, but that has now been extended through June of next year, Yingst said.

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