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Donor offers $60,000 worth of tech hardware to Rib Lake schools

For the past several months, Rib Lake School District has been preparing to open in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To propel students’ education, the district will rely more on technology than they did in years prior. To help the district, an unnamed individual told district administrators that they are willing to make an anonymous donation of $60,000 worth of tech hardware.

“[The donation is to] make sure our teachers have iPads with the Logitech keyboards, and Swivel, [a rotating camera system] which is voice-activated to follow around a teacher,” explained district administrator Rick Cardey. “Also we have some things that we’ll probably get out of it that aren’t even identified yet.”

“A very big heartfelt thank you to that donor, it’s wonderful what you’re doing,” added board president Steve Martin.

Along with the large donation, an educational technology training session was provided to the teachers who will be utilizing the donated tech.

Elementary school bus arrivals will look a little different: kids will be dropped off at the same area near the district offi ce doors, but distance will need to be maintained, and hand sanitizer used before entering the building. Dismissal will change as well. Elementary principal Jon Dallmann said that the district’s plan so far is to line students up in their respective bus lines in the classroom, then the teacher will lead the line out. By doing this, they will avoid having students clumped up together while waiting for bus arrivals. The buses will pick students up by the front of the school, while parents picking their children up will be by the district office. The parent will have to come get their kid, as the students won’t be allowed to walk themselves.

“That’s something I’m going to really focus on to make sure students aren’t running through the parking lot, but parents come get their child and walk them back to the car for safety,” said Dallmann. “Hopefully it will spread people around a bit more.”

Dallmann promoted the idea of outside education, where students can distance themselves easier and won’t need to wear masks. He said that elementary classes in particular should be encouraged to take place outside, because students of such young ages need to properly develop and articulate themselves while interacting, speaking, and presenting. Recess will be broken up by grade level into designated areas, which will rotate on a weekly basis. Hours are changing too. Pre-K through 2nd will be dismissed at 3:12 p.m., while grades 3-5 will be dismissed at 3:15 p.m. At the middle and high school, the district is looking to start at 8 a.m. instead of their normal 8:10 time, and end at 3 p.m. instead of 3:25.

For grades 6-12, there will be three lunches in each building. Middle and high school principal Budimlija said it’s “not a change for the middle school, but the high school students will sit in the same seat everyday just so we can track where people are better.”

High school students will sit alphabetically, and their classes will be dismissed by rows closest to the door, at which point a custodian will clean the room. Additionally, locker use will be limited to certain timeframes.

“For example, between periods one and two, some sixth graders and some ninth graders can run to their lockers and exchange anything they need to,” said Budimlija. “Because they’ll only be able to stop at their locker a limited amount per day, students will be able to carry around backpacks, which I think will help a lot.”

She further explained that locker use will be spaced apart so two or more people aren’t using neighboring lockers at the same time.

In the classrooms, students will be seated six feet apart, with signs hung up to indicate distance. Like Dallmann, Budimlija supported the concept of classes learning outside.

For the middle school, students will stay in one classroom, while teachers move from class to class.

All students and staff will need to wear a mask, although they will be allowed to take it off while presenting; teachers can be mask-free while up front and teaching, but will have to put a mask on while walking around the class and closely interacting with students. Those who claim to be medically exempt from wearing a mask will need to provide a doctor’s note to district administrators.

To limit transmission of the virus, students will sit in the same seats everyday during their classes and lunch; this also enables easier tracking of student-to-student spreading. They will be unable to stand around in the hall and talk to other students, and they will be told not to eat or drink in the hallways. Items not used on a regular basis will be removed from classrooms.

Athletics will change as well. Spectators will have to social distance, and if multiple games are being played in a row, parents attending will be asked to leave after their kids are done playing to make more space.

The district is putting all COVID-19 related expenditure in to a single account, so they can keep tabs on all additional costs incurred in the upcoming school year.

The district is seeking funding through a CARES act grant, specifically in regards to COVID-19 related spending, such as disinfectant that goes beyond normal costs. The money would be spendable up to 2022, so the district may use some of the funds for summer supplemental learning programs next year.

In other business:

_ Considering current circumstances, a month is too long in between decision making meetings, and agreed to meet more often. They set up another board meeting for Aug. 27 at 6 p.m.

_ The Title IX policy, regarding discrimination based on sex, was revamped on a federal level, and was officially updated at the district on August 14.

_ The Tannery Field outfield project received $5,000 from the district to help complete work on the baseball field that Rib Lake uses for its games. The money will be used to purchase extra dirt to level off the outfield.

_ Athletics will now have digital options for signing students up, with athletic director Mike Wudi saying it will be easier and more accurate for keeping athletes’ information.

_ The middle and high school have been awarded a financial literacy grant of $10,000, which Budimlija said the money is going to go towards curriculum, technology, guest speakers, field trips, and college planning.

_ Spanish teacher Pam Schultz left Rib Lake to teach at Medford. She was at Rib Lake for 28 years. She may teach one more year of summer school at Rib Lake, but it is uncertain at this time.

_ Amy Foster was hired as elementary secretary.