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Board focused on reopening issues for 2020-21 term
Boscobel School District
Boscobel School District
BOSCOBEL - President Todd Miller opened Monday evening’s meeting of the Boscobel Board of Education and the some forty-plus attendees via Zoom, with a brief announcement that Boscobel District Administrator Greg Bell had informed the board and District staff earlier that day he would be taking an extended leave of absence for medical reasons. No further details were made available.

Discussion on Reopening School

    The major topic of the meeting was planning for the reopening of Boscobel Area Schools. Many of those attending via Zoom were parents and staff members with concerns over what plan may be put forth by the District. Due to its understood importance, following the administrative reports, Miller asked the board to adjust the evening’s agenda to move the discussion on reopening to be the first item taken up. 

     Other area schools are also in the process of determining what form the opening of schools may take. The state Department of Public Instruction earlier released guidelines and recommendations for districts to consider, as has the Center for Disease Control. School nurse Suzanne Brinkman has been closely monitoring state, county, and local health conditions and recommendations in order to provide the best information available to the district in order to make an informed decision in the best interest of local students, families, and all school personnel.  As Brinkman and others noted, information and recommendations change, sometimes daily, which can both inform and disrupt the planning process. Miller made clear that the board will work with the school’s administrative staff, guidance counselors, business personnel, and Mrs. Brinkman, in looking to determine a plan to reopen Boscobel Area Schools this fall in an educationally sound, yet safe method considering students, families, and staff.  Miller stated that the Board and administrative team had considered the results of the family surveys in their planning and that results of the survey will be posted for public viewing soon. Miller mentioned that the recent resurgence of the virus, and particularly an uptick in its presence in Grant County has caused the District to reassess initial plans to reopen.  Brinkman outlined what she considered to be important recommendations based on current research and guidelines;

 1. Masks should be used by all staff at all times and by upper level students where social distancing is not possible.  She is currently investigating the value and practicality of face shields.

 2. Maintain social distancing of six feet, class may need to be staggered in order to accomplish this. 

 3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and proper disinfectant procedures will need to be implemented for any in-person learning to take place.

  4. Virtual learning should be available in case of rise in cases and to address family/student concerns.

Brinkman also noted that it was important that all understood that no in person plan is without the risk of infection being possible. 

Possible Models for Reopening

     A discussion on various models being looked at by the team take these four general forms;

 1. “Hybrid” versions that would divide in person instruction with virtual learning. These models would divide students into two large groups with students attending in school two to three days per week and using virtual learning when not scheduled in school.  This would allow for proper social distancing within classrooms. The division of students would take into account various factors, such as trying to keep students from individual families together, bus routes, and students with special instructional or health needs and others. 

2. Consider being open for all students who wish to attend in person while providing virtual options for student not attending in person. 

3. A combination in which lower elementary students up to grade three would attend daily and one of the hybrid models would be implemented for students above grade four. 

These are simply models for discussion, with details for scheduling and other various factors needed to be considered to formulate a final plan.

Parental Concerns

   Several parents voiced some of their concerns, while taking the time to show appreciation of the situation teachers, administrators, and all school staff have been placed in.  The concerns were well considered and each had merit. Among those concerns voiced were;

  1. continuity and routine for students with Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs)

  2. consideration of specific health conditions of students and staff

  3. the difficulties for younger students in restrictive environments

 4. the importance of social interaction and the various health, nutritional, and safety provisions found in school attendance

  5. the gaps found in, and the limitations of virtual instruction in keeping students engaged.

Administrators and staff that were present were understanding of the concerns expressed offering validation and either offering how those concerns were being considered already or assurances that they would be a part of their planning.  One parent summed up, what all participants are feeling, stating politely, but firmly, “Parents will need an answer, how is school going to open?”

Miller reported to the Dial that he and the board would continue to meet with the administrative team and key personnel, taking into account as many factors as possible to work on a specific plan for reopening for the District.  Miller believes that a specific plan will be in place and released to the public by the next scheduled meeting of the Board, if not sooner.  

Prom Cancelled, Graduation Set

   During high school principal Wally Byrne’s report he announced that due to the uncertainty created by COVID-19 and the potential for risk, Prom had been cancelled for 2019-2020.  Byrne stated that he and counselor Rhonda Scallon and advisor Jean Salzgaber were considering possibilities to provide next year’s seniors, who are missing the traditional Junior Prom, with an optional opportunity.  Byrne also stated that this year’s graduation has been set for Sunday, August 16 at 1:00 PM. It is scheduled to be held on the Casey Nice Memorial Football Field.  Should there be inclement weather, graduation will be held in the gym at the high school. Mary Karsten of Boscobel is making masks for the graduates. 

One-to-One Chrome Books Approved

   A recommendation by Mr. Bell to move the high school to one-to-one Chromebooks which had been discussed at last months meeting was approved. Incoming freshmen will receive a new Chromebook which they will use for the next four years.  To begin the program, older students will receive increasingly older Chromebooks by grade level with seniors being issued Chromebooks three to four years old.  Insurance will be available to parents at a cost of $21 to $22 based on its age. 

Other Business

·       Fuel bid awarded to Kwik Trip

·       Food Service bid awarded to Sysco Foods

·       Milk bid awarded to Prairie Farms

·       School meal and registrations fees set at previous year’s rates

·       Approved the transfer of $1,331,886.00 to Fund 46 leaving approximately $75,000.00 to the

General Fund. 

Personnel Matters

·       Sarah Dalton, Special Education teacher. Approved transfer from Elementary to Middle/High School

·       Lauren Young, hired as Elementary Special Education teacher

·       Angela Walsh contracted as School Psychologists for approximately fifteen evaluations

·       Steven McKillip, hired as assistant football coach

·       Dusty Ralph, hired as middle school football coach

·       Jamie Ralph, hired as middle school football coach

Bernie Faulkner, approved transfer from Elementary custodian to Middle/High School custodian