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What will fall classes look like for students and staff?

Cadott School Board

It’s the golden question leading into the 2020-21 school year, what will school look like? Jenny Starck, superin- tendent, discussed a tiered plan for reopening, following last year’s closure because of COVID-19, during a regular Cadott School Board meeting July 13.

Starck noted the plans she shared during the meeting are the current plans and could change if the situation surrounding COVID-19 changes in the Cadott area.

“The idea is to minimize risk for students and staff,” said Starck.

Starck says it isn’t possible to be completely safe, or have everyone in the school and still remain six feet apart at all times.

She also says county data and the actions of other school districts in the county will be considered, though localized data may mean districts within Chippewa County are responding differently at times. Starck says, for example, district size and insurance carriers can impact district protocols.

“We want to be more responsive if we are able to meet with kids and work with them face-to-face,” said Starck, adding they want to do face-to-face instruction when they can.

Starck also showed board members the results from a parent survey.

“It does give us some direction,” said Starck of the results.

Parents indicated they most preferred all students to attend each day. When looking at options for the district if half capacity is required, parents said they would rather have stu-

See FALL CLASSES/ Page 3 dents split the week between virtual and in-person classes, rather than alternate weeks between home and school. The least preferred option was all students doing distance learning.

“It’s difficult for a lot of reasons for families,” said Starck of at-home learning. “It’s difficult for a lot of reasons for our staff.”

Access issues and parents who are working, were some of the biggest roadblocks to virtual learning for Cadott families.

Starck also noted a strong majority of parents did not clearly support or oppose the district starting the school year before Sept. 1.

A staff survey strongly reflected parent preferences for in-person classes, with staff reporting they are distancing more, than parents reported limiting interactions.

Based on feedback from parents and staff, Starck says the district does not plan to apply for a waiver to start the school year early.

“If we’re not applying for a waiver, at least the school calendar stays the same,” said Starck.

Professional development for staff will also focus on online learning, as well as social/emotional learning and mental health support for students.

Starck also noted that families with someone immunocompromised in their home or with other health concerns, could consider using the eSucceed charter school, which the district is a collaborative partner with.

“If someone really wanted online-only, they could have that as an option,” said Starck.

Starck says eSucceed is expanding to younger grades this fall, to offer a full K-12 curriculum.

“So, we are, right now, working on three tiers of instruction,” said Starck.

One tier of the plan includes face-to-face learning, though Starck says that will include changes from previous years, such as using online platforms.

“If we get kids here, we want to become really efficient and effective with those platforms, while they’re here, while we have good internet access,” said Starck.

Starck says building that foundation could make the switch to at-home learning easier than it was last spring.

Students, especially at the elementary level, will also be kept in their class cohorts as much as possible.

“At least that minimizes the spread,” said Starck.

Blended learning, the second tier, would involve half the students present at a time, which would allow for more physical distancing.

“We would group students by families,” said Starck, making it easier for older children to watch younger students at home. “I will tell you, this takes a lot of logistics and planing.”

The final tier would be at-home learning five days a week. Starck said, if a school closure is not at the state level, like the spring closure was, staff may be able to meet with students for specialized instruction of therapy.

Starck also noted the tiers are more of a continuum.

“Right now, we’re talking about masks recommended, and, I’ll say, may be required at times,” said Starck.

Examples Starck gave of when masks may be required, is for staff in commons areas, or if a student is symptomatic until a parent can pick them up.

Parents and staff are also responsible for their own symptom screening.

Starck says students may be kept more with their groups during lunchtime, recess and busing, too.

In the business portion of the meeting, members approved staff handbook updates for 2020-21. Starck says, during the closure, students responded better to texts than emails or phone calls, and one of the handbook changes reflects the flexibility in communication.

“In the old handbook, teachers were not allowed to do text messaging and we talked about adding an option of that, if parents are notified and OK with it,” said Starck.

Members also approved a strength and conditioning vendor for the 2020-21 school year.

Caleb Hundt, junior and senior high school principal, said there were three bids for the vendor – Phit Shed, Thirteenth Strong and ETS. An athletic committee discussed the bids at a previous meeting.

Hundt noted Phit Shed’s bid was about half the cost of the other two, in terms of actual cost.

“ETS and Thirteenth Strong, the committee felt were more geared toward supporting our students, because they both have worked in schools with competitive teams before,” said Hundt.

Hundt says the committee voted in favor of Thirteenth Strong, though he said he thinks either Thirteenth Strong or ETS would be fine. Both vendors would be based out of Eau Claire, and come to the school to work with students 12-15 hours per week, and nine to 12 hours each day over the summer.

“The biggest thing for us was bringing in someone to brand our athletics,” said Hundt.

He says the company would provide a new face for the students to rally around and learn from, while they are working to get stronger and faster. The programs also have a focus on injury prevention.

“The biggest thing with any initiative is not who comes in, but how we rally around them as a student body and as a coach committee,” said Hundt of the vendor options.

The vendor is part of the school’s scorecard goal to improve athletics. Hundt says the individualized programs will also provide a consistent training schedule for multisport athletes throughout the year.

Hundt says the vendor will not necessarily have to be a yearly thing, as coaches gain more experience in strength and conditioning training.

Mark Schley, board member, asked if the district is locked into the contract if there are no sports for the 2020-21 school year. Starck says she thinks there will be some flexibility and that, even if there are not sports, they would like to still work with students on strength and conditioning.

Brad Sonnentag, board member, also said he would like to see the strength and conditioning training worked into summer school for 2021.

Members voted in favor of a one-year contract with Thirteenth Strong, for $24,000 for the school year, and $10,000 for summer.

Board members also approved the hire of Alexandra Webster, fourth-grade teacher.