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Rib Lake sees jump in virtual learning option

Rib Lake district school board continues its plans for reopening this school year.

There is a larger than expected number of students going with the virtual option, with the district estimating 50 children opting in. Pre Kindergarten through fourth grade will check in using Seesaw Learning, while grades 5-12 will utilize Google Classroom.

In reaction to the mass of students going virtual the board approved a 25 minute reduction from the normal 3:15 p.m. elementary school dismissal time, bringing it down to 2:50 p.m. Elementary school principal Jon Dallman said that with the addition of such a large amount of online students, the teachers’ workloads were increased significantly and they need extra time at the end of the day to check in with virtual students.

“They need the time to do the virtual, and to do it well, which our students deserve,” said Dallmann.

District administrator Rick Cardey supported the decision, saying the district wants the virtual program to be an extension of the classroom.

“Whether you’re off site or here, you’re learning the same thing and have the same targets and standards,” Cardey said, while reminding the board they don’t want to lose kids to homeschooling.

Board member Rollie Thums opted for an even earlier release, saying 25 minutes is hardly enough, though he voted yes on the motion because it’s “better than nothing.”

He noted that while in-person and virtual instruction plans were the same for the majority of days, they won’t always be similar. On those days, Thums said, having teachers do two separate would be a strain, even with the extra 25 minutes.

For in-person instruction, desks will be distanced, students will have to head straight to their classrooms after drop-off, and recess will be sectioned off by grade level. Band wind instruments will be fitted with a fiber filter with hopes that it will catch anything that might travel through the instrument.

Rib Lake will go ahead with their athletic programs, with their current plan being to proceed with football, volleyball, and cross-country in the Fall. School districts were presented an option to either start in Fall or postpone sports until Spring, with athletic director Mike Wudi pointing out that starting sports in spring would be difficult because of our climate, since football practice starts at the beginning of March.

“I don’t know who’s going to shovel off the field for us to have practice,” he said.

If the district has to shut down sports during the Fall season, they may get a chance to resume in Spring; if less than 50% of the season is used, they will get to redo their sport programs. While participating in sports, the district is going to do their best to stay within a smaller area and attend events closer to home.

Social distancing on the athletics buses is another issue they have to decide on. Since the athletes will be spending hours together on a field, there isn’t as much of a push for social distancing on their buses.

“You can’t social distance a football game,” Wudi pointed out.

However, social distancing restrictions for spectators are likely to be set by conferences, especially for indoor sporting events. Rib Lake in particular is expected to be restricted, because they have the smallest gym in their league. The district may look at live-streaming options to allow those who would like to see the game but are unable to attend. High school football and volleyball practice is slotted to begin Sept. 7.

Community center fitness use was looked at for how to keep the fitness room open, but not mingle outside visitors with students. Rib Lake set aside two time frames outside of the school day during which the center will be open to the community: 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., and then 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Face coverings and a six foot distance between workouts will be required, and equipment will need to be disinfected after use.

Rib Lake posted a district administrator vacancy position that will last through September 25, with the job’s start date listed at around November 9. Cardey intends to set up interviews for around October 15 and help the new superintendent transition into the role. Cardey does not have a set retirement date.

In other business, board members took the following actions:

_ Hires: Rachel Daniel is transferring from special education to second grade, Heather Schmudlach was hired for special education, and Marshall Vaughn was brought on for high school science.

_ Resignations: second grade teacher Amy Miicke, speech and language pathologist Erin Burton, and teaching assistant Haley Bain.

_ The district is seeking to hire an individual for a social media position.