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Wednesdays will continue as virtual instruction days
At North Crawford
North Crawford

NORTH CRAWFORD - The North Crawford School Board decided to continue with virtual Wednesdays at their meeting on September 23. The decision, according to Superintendent Brandon Munson will be re-evaluated periodically, taking into account the current state of COVID-19 infections in the county, in consultation with the Crawford County Public Health Department.

“We are very encouraged by the amount of staff collaboration virtual Wednesdays has allowed,” Munson said. “It also allows us to deal with periodic staff absences due to the need to quarantine – we’re having trouble having enough substitute teachers available to cover those absences, and if we can’t find a sub, then another teacher has to take that on. And, we haven’t even hit the cold and flu season yet.”

Munson suggested to the board that they vote to continue with virtual Wednesdays at this time, but also keep consideration of the policy as a standing item on board meeting agendas.

“As a parent, I’ve found the virtual Wednesdays to be very beneficial for my daughter,” school board member Jill Stefonek said. “It gives her more time to get extra, one-on-one help.”

“If students have fallen behind in virtual instruction, then we use that time to provide mandatory extra assistance in a Zoom Room,” Middle School/High School Principal Toby Tripalin said. “We started it with middle school, and will expand that to all students in grades 6-12.”

“We don’t want to repeat the experience we had last spring if circumstances should force elementary students into virtual instruction,” Elementary Principal Amanda Killeen said. “With the virtual Wednesdays, and lots of practice with virtual platforms during in-person instruction, we are prepping our elementary students to be as competent and confident in their use as possible.”

“Our Wednesdays are very busy,” teacher Erika Wilson said. “The virtual Wednesdays gives us the time to give students the one-on-one attention they need to succeed.”

“Math is really not a subject that a lot of parents want to have to try to teach their children,” middle school math teacher Jessica Jaeger said. “Virtual Wednesdays allows me to give students the extra time some need to learn the lesson, and also time to do all my back-end planning.”

“Virtual Wednesdays also provides our younger students with a much-needed break from wearing a mask,” second grade teacher Julie Kruizenga said. “The time is used by teachers to work through all of the issues and collaborate with teachers outside of our pod.”

“The time to collaborate with other teachers around use of the virtual platforms has been essential,” teacher Amy Allbaugh said. “It also gives us the time we need to coordinate all the additional logistics in our classrooms that allow us to maintain social distancing during in-person instruction.”

At the end of the discussion, Jill Stefonek moved, and Ed Heisz seconded, continuing with virtual Wednesdays. The motion carried.

Sport event spectators

Another hot topic on the board’s agenda involved a Ridge & Valley Conference proposal to begin to allow spectators at athletic events starting October 1.

“Crawford County remains in Phase Two of reopening, so Crawford County Public Health Director Cindy Riniker has clarified that this would mean limiting participants to 50 indoors, and 100 outdoors,” Munson explained. “Those numbers would be in addition to the teams and support staff.”

The proposal discussed was to permit each athlete to have two spectators apiece at indoor events, and four apiece at outdoor events.

School board member Ed Heisz asked if athletes have “spots” they aren’t using, could other families use those spots?

“Yes, families can share – we’ll leave that pretty flexible,” Munson replied. “As far as the visiting school, they will get the spots they get, and use what they use.”

Heisz then asked about how it was being ensured that the volleyballs were cleaned? He expressed concern that the coaches were already busy enough with out adding that responsibility.

“The junior varsity girls have been taking on that role,” Munson said. “It’s been working very well.”

Dale Spencer, a member of the school maintenance team, asked how, using only half the gym, it would be possible to maintain social distancing?

“Harry Heisz has gone in and measured it, and believes it can be done,” Munson said. “Families will be able to sit together – it will work at the 50 spectator level, but not if we were to move to 100 spectators.”

Tanya Forkash asked about the complete cleaning that would take place between junior varsity and varsity play, and if there was adequate staffing to make that possible.

“That’s a great question since we’ve never done this before,” Munson said. “We will have two custodians to do the work, and we’ll have to try it and see – if not we can ask for help from scorers, judges and managers.”

At the end of the discussion Ed Heisz moved, and Jill Stefonek seconded a motion to allow each athlete to have two spectators for indoor events, and four spectators for outdoor events. The motion carried.

Livestreaming games

Munson also reported that the district would like to move forward with purchasing the HUDL Return to Play package for livestreaming of athletic events.

“The clubs have been using this technology internally for a few years now, and will continue to fundraise to pay their portion of it,” Munson explained. “The district will have to pay $3,000 for the camera and $450 for the administrative account.”

The good news is that the North Crawford Booster Club has offered to pay the full $3,000 cost of the camera installation.

The board approved the purchase.

Foodservice recognized

In the district showcase part of the agenda, Munson recognized the North Crawford foodservice staff for their extraordinary efforts to feed students last spring during the ‘Safer at Home’ order, throughout the summer, and now into the fall.

“The dedication and effort of our Foodservice Team to feed all the kids at North Crawford has been extraordinary,” Munson said. “Though they continue to experience new challenges on a regular basis, they always take the bull by the horns, and always present solutions rather than problems.”

North Crawford Foodservice Director Jennifer Kapinus attended the meeting virtually.

“Thanks for the support and recognition – we really appreciate it,” Kapinus said.

Administrative reports

Elementary:Elementary Principal Amanda Killeen reported that the first month of school had been very busy, but that everyone was “getting in the groove together.” She said they had experienced a slight delay in the launch of the virtual instruction platform Calvert because the company was planning for 500 kids, and then 105,000 kids signed up. She said her team had decided to purchase the  paper workbook from the company to augment the online instruction.

Middle School/High School:MS/HS Principal Toby Tripalin reported that his team continues to forge ahead with implementation of the ‘PLC Playbook,’ which is a program designed to produce a more results-oriented culture in the school. He said that the student council  was leading a modified celebration of homecoming week with virtual skits, decorating and games. He said that like other schools, there would be no homecoming dance this year.

Student Services:Student Services Director Cara Wood reported that her team is off to a great start, and was very fortunate in the new staff they had added to the team. She said that there was currently a total of 83 students receiving services from her team.

Superintendent:Superintendent Brandon Munson reported that they had recently completed the third Friday count, which was more complicated than usual given the instructional model being used at the school this year. He said that the school’s membership was down slightly this year, with some students homeschooling and a few having open enrolled out of the district. He said that he is moving ahead with the school’s budget, and that federal and state funding received has helped to balance out the additional COVID-19 expenses. He said that both the custodial and transportation staff had been ‘champions of their areas,’ and the result is that everything is functioning very smoothly. He said that hiring a full-time nurse for the school had been “essential,” and that John Powell is a “real go-getter.”

In other business

In other business, the North Crawford School Board:

• tabled a decision about the school’s facemask policy given Governor Ever’s extension of the order until November 21

• renewed their contract with Gundersen for Occupational Health Services

• renewed their contract with Vernon Memorial Healthcare for Athletic Training Services

• approved making an application from the district to DPI for flexibility to waive state statutes in regards to educator effectiveness, personnel evaluations and Wisconsin Milk Program.