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Seneca School District deals with closure
Seneca School District

SENECA - As might be expected the direct and indirect influence of the COVID-19 pandemic were a central part of the Seneca Area School Board meeting held Monday, April 20.

Of major importance, to board and the district were how grades would be handled with school closed by the pandemic and instruction taking place in a distance learning environment with students at home.

The board approved a plan of grading for the fourth quarter including a pass/no pass option. Students can elect to have any or all courses graded pass/no pass. They can also get traditional letter grades for all courses.

The idea of pass/no pass is in response to the different circumstances the students are finding themselves in.

Grades for the third quarter are based on work completed in the seven weeks of the nine-week quarter that were completed before school was closed.

Regardless of the grading system chosen, grades for the second semester will not be included in the student’s GPA  (Grade Point Average).

To facilitate coursework, the school district provided 27 internet ‘hotspots’ to the students and staff who do not have a good home internet connection. For the most part, the ‘hotspots,’ small three-inch-by-three-inch boxes that plug into the wall socket, are providing the increased connectivity needed to allow streaming and internet chats.

In a few extreme cases in the houses located in narrow small valleys, there have been challenges, according to Seneca School District Administrator Dave Boland who spoke with the Independent-Scout after the meeting.

“We’re all learning a lot more about technology than we knew a month and a half ago,” Boland said.

In other business, The Seneca School Board:

• approved a gym ceiling repair by Brickl Brothers from West Salem at a cost of $27,340

• approved Mezera Heating and Air Conditioning for the replacement of two furnaces at a cost of $14,935

• approved a contract with CESA 3 for educational services for the 2020-21 school year at a cost of $43,832

• approved replacing the school’s aging computer server at a cost of $11,283

• approved Johnson Block and Company of Viroqua to do the district’s financial audit for the 2019-20 school year at an estimated cost of $7,150 to $8,075

• learned  food service workers Michelle Updike and Nissa Klema were preparing about 190 breakfasts and 190 lunches daily for delivery to students–with pickup points in Seneca, Mt. Sterling, Lynxville and Eastman

• reviewed the 2019-20 budget

• approved a reimbursement for the spring sports coaches for work done before the school closure

• accepted the retirement of elementary school teacher Miriam Oldenburg after 40 years of service

• accepted the retirement of business education teacher Donna Aspenson after 20 years of service

• accepted the retirement of cleaning person Cathy Boland after 22 years of service

• gave the Seneca Area School District Monthly Recognition Award to the entire school staff for the way they have dealt with school closure and the challenges it presented