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Summer school will be online at Rib Lake

Although Wisconsin’s Safer At Home orders have been lifted, Rib Lake School District is still reeling from the affects of COVID-19, with the problems arising from school closures keeping the district bogged down.

“The impact of COVID-19 is forecasting a $2 to $3 billion defect for the [state] 2021 budget cycle,” said district administrator Rick Cardey, adding that it’s likely schools won’t have a budget repair bill until after the November presidential elections. “It’s going to be difficult for a lot of us that are five or six months into a budget.”

In addition to the regular school year, summer school lessons were looked at with a degree of concern. Summer classes bring in a large portion of money the school needs to operate, but the pandemic has shaved off accessibility to proper classes.

Cardey said a venue for any lessons which may occur is undetermined, although “through June 30 we know it’s virtual. After that, it’s uncertain.”

Some educators are hesitant to return to in-person teaching without proper guidelines from state or federal officials, leading to the question of if they will have inperson summer school classes, or any at all.

“I would like to set up some virtual opportunities for kids over June and July, and if it looks like we can do something in August let’s have some on-site summer school,” said Cardey. “We’d work with some people to target [STEM activities,] or some creativity type things.”

The district surveyed usual participants’ interest in attending summer school during the upcoming months, but the majority said they were “very undecided” and showed little enthusiasm towards lessons.

In line with the district’s new education program, families who didn’t have any form of internet were given access to wireless hotspots, enabling their children to join virtual learning lessons and not miss school due to unavoidable circumstances. Cardey said poor internet will be the biggest factor holding students back.

Large-scale online learning was originally implemented after Gov. Evers ordered statewide school closures on March 18, but since then, the district has been working on a smaller scale to refine their lessons and tweak workloads so they better suit students’ needs.

While supplying meals to approximately 150 students since the shutdown, Rib Lake has been utilizing Sovereign Lunch Program, which reimburses the district lunch costs and the salaries of those working to deliver them.

Both the program and normal staffing will cease at May’s end, but Cardey believes the program might have the opportunity to expand and Gilman may keep receiving reimbursements for meals and staffing, particularly when the temporary staff comes on board.

“I’d like to see the program continue. Our costs are going to be less because it’s going to be summer help doing the cooking and delivery,” Cardey said, adding that he wants to cut down deliveries to two days a week by giving students multiple meals to last them the duration of several days. He also wants to supply students with a gallon jug of milk, rather than give them several of the school standard half-pint cardboard cartons.

Cardey had a meeting with area superintendents on May 14, saying the consensus among school district administrators is that education is experiencing a low swing throughout the state.

“We are all in the same boat; the only thing certain right now is uncertainty,” he said. “There’s a lot of big unknowns... But we learn as we go through.”

Graduation and grading

Formal approval of an August 8 graduation day was carried out. Taking place during Ice Age Days, neither a format nor logistical details have been set in stone, but the date was chosen so families could be ready for graduation, so long as it’s feasible. It was also ruled that students would be judged on a pass/fail system, rather than grade point average.