If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — It takes an entire team to make sure a school keeps running during a pandemic.
Thanks to the administrators, teachers, custodians, administrative assistants, secretaries, food service staff, the students, their parents, grandparents and other family members, and the school board — “we made it to Christmas break,” said William C. Yingst Jr., district administrator, at the Colfax Board of Education’s December 21 meeting.
Granted, there was still one more day left of school before the holiday break began, but Yingst said he was fairly certain the school district could make it through the following day without shutting down for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve made a strong effort to keep (school) as normal as possible,” he said.
Last spring, as the SARS-CO-V2 virus began spreading, schools were closed statewide from March until the end of the school year, and the first in-person instruction began again in September.
Yingst said he had initially believed the school district would be doing well if the district could maintain in-person instruction until Thanksgiving without sending all the students home for online instruction because there were too many students and teachers out with COVID-19.
Colfax is one of the few schools left in the area that has not had to go online only, Yingst noted.
The effort to keep Colfax schools on track for in-person instruction also was due to the Board of Education’s support for adopting the 2020-21 Back to School Plan August 5, he said.
According to the introduction to the plan, “The purpose of our Colfax Back-to-School plan is to keep our students, staff, and community safe while adhering to any applicable public health orders and guidance … Our intent is to provide in-person learning to the greatest extent possible, while also taking prudent steps to keep our students, staff and community safe. This plan is based on the trajectory of public health data centered here in Dunn County, while monitoring regional and state data … the plan is a continual work in progress and based on public health assumptions and subject to change. Thank you for your patience, flexibility and continued support as we get through these challenging times together.”
KT Gallagher, Dunn County’s health officer and the director of the Dunn County Health Department, reviewed the plan, inspected the school buildings and was satisfied with the Colfax back-to-school model, Yingst said.
Gallagher said that Colfax’s plan adopted the best model because it provided an online option for those who did not want to send their children to school and kept in-person instruction available for parents who wanted to send their children to school, he said.
“It will be a team effort of all staff moving forward. Being lucky does not hurt either,” Yingst said.
Todd Kragness, school board president, said he has received many questions asking, “what is Colfax doing?”
“This is far from over, and it’s a big credit to all,” he said, adding that he knows people who have done “everything right” in terms of wearing masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene and staying at home as much as possible, “and they still got COVID.”
“Nothing good is easy,” Kragness said.
“The best place for kids is in school if we can do it,” Yingst said.
The school district has purchased $20 gift cards from local businesses and has been giving them away to school staff as a way to support local businesses during the pandemic and as a way to show appreciation to all of the school staff, Yingst said.
The give-away has involved using an electronic Wheel of Fortune and a 12 Days of Christmas concept that has proven popular with staff members, he said.
In other business, the Colfax Board of Education:
• Learned that Colfax student Clara Hydukovich won the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram’s annual Holiday Memory essay contest in the grade 6-8 category.
• Open enrollment dates for the 2021-22 school year will be February 1 to April 30, 2021.
• Accepted a $5,000 gift from the Sanger Foundation. In the past, the money has been placed in Fund 21 (student assistance). The gift from the Sanger Foundation began many years ago. The mother of one of the people associated with the foundation was a resident at Area Nursing Home. The family was so impressed with her care that they wanted to do something for the community and have been making an annual $5,000 gift to the school district for years, Yingst said.
• Approved an application for the Early College Credit Program for the spring of 2021.
• Approved hiring Emily Miller as the new Spanish teacher. Miller completed her student teaching at Colfax for her elementary certification and her K-12 Spanish certification, Yingst said. Colleen Verdon, who retired at the end of the school year, agreed to come back and teach Spanish for the fall semester, and Miller was able to complete her student teaching in Spanish with Mrs. Verdon, he said.
Miller graduated from UW-Eau Claire this month and will take over as the Spanish teacher at Colfax in January.
• Accepted the resignation of Garrett Maas as the varsity boys’ basketball coach. According to the letter he provided to the school board, Maas said he appreciated that the Board of Education and the administration had allowed him to be part of the basketball program for the last 14 years. “At this time, the time commitment with my own kids’ activities doesn’t leave room for the time that it takes to be a head coach. However, I would like to stay involved in Colfax athletics in some capacity,” he wrote.
• Approved a list of winter athletic coaches — middle school boys’ basketball: Michael Hodel and Ryan Krall; middle school girls’ basketball: Kari Sedivy and Vicki Moore; varsity boys’ basketball: Mark Noll (varsity), Brett Prince (JV) and Luke Heidorn (freshmen); varsity girls basketball: Courtney Sarauer (varsity), Joseph Doucette (JV), Ally Heidorn (freshmen); high school wrestling: David Blanchard.
• Approved making budget adjustments to the 2020-2021 budget based on the numbers received from the state for state aid in October.
• Approved a list of policy updates recommended by Neola, the school district’s consultant on policies, that included policies on quorum; special meetings; public participation at board meetings; legal counsel; English language proficiency; homebound instruction program; exceptional education needs; employment of substitutes; drug-free workplace; reduction in staff; use of tobacco by professional staff; outside activities of staff; threatening behavior toward staff members; eligibility of resident and on-resident students; graduation requirements; use of tobacco by students; use of restraint and seclusion with students; deleting the policy on borrowing; adding the policy on debt management; EDGAR procurement of federal grants and funds; gifts, grants and bequests; use of tobacco and other inhalants on school premises; new policy on small unmanned aircraft systems; animals on district property; and a new policy on student mental health services.