Gilman holds off on winter sports games until Dec 11
Board extends mask order, works to keep schools safe for students, staff members
The Gilman School district is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst when it comes to dealing with COVID19’s ongoing impact to the school.
District administrator Wally Leipart told board members at Monday night’s meeting that the district is currently at a “moderate” level with their COVID-19 action plan with 8.5% of students and staff in the district out of school either due to quarantine or a positive test. They currently have 23 students in the district who are on quarantine and one who has tested positive.
According to Leipart the goals of the district in coping with COVID-19 are to keep the students safe, make it so that staff feels safe being there and then dealing with education. Leipart said that everything needs to be on the table in regard to ensuring the safety of students and staff.
This has included things such as utilizing hallways and not having passing during lunch periods and looking to changes in sports for the winter season.
“Wisconsin is continuing to see an unrelenting rise,” Leipart said, noting that people are being turned away from hospitals because there are no beds.
According to Leipart there are two things that people can do, the first is to wear masks and the second is to practice social distancing. Leipart called on the district to extend its mask requirement for the school to February 1.
He said it is important for school staff and others to model behavior of wearing masks so that students follow their lead. Leipart said that he did not want it to occur on his watch that a student or staff member died from the illness.
To that end, Leipart said all people in the buildings would be expected to wear masks. “Individuals that choose not to follow the recommendations are not welcome in this building and that goes for students and staff,” Leipart said.
The coming holiday season will pose challenges, Leipart said with concerns with Thanksgiving and hunting season and then just a few weeks later Christmas. Leipart proposed having athletic practices take place, but that they wanted to delay the start of the competitive season until two weeks after Thanksgiving and then have one event per week.
He agreed with the basketball players who wrote a letter to the board asking for the season to be held. “We need the game, we need each other,” the student athletes wrote of the need they have for the athletic outlet of the sports season.
Leipart proposed waiting until Dec. 11 to have any winter sports competitions. Board members agreed with Leipart’s proposal and voted to approve the plan.
In other business, board members:
_ Approved hiring Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) for an administrator evaluation module for a cost of $600. The subscription is for three years and includes access to a lengthy set of rubrics and guidelines not only for evaluating a district administrator, but for establishing the evaluation process as a long-term goal setting tool for the district and board as a whole. Dennis Richards, a consultant with WASB presented the module suggesting that the evaluation process occur two times per year. He also emphasized the need for an updated job description as a tool for the evaluation process. The module includes ratings in 10 leadership standards, Richards said it is unrealistic to expect to get through all the standards in one year, which is why they offered it as a threeyear process.
_ Approved appointing Chris Skabroud to fill the vacancy left on the board with the resignation of Matt Chaplinski who moved out of the district. Skabroud will be up for reelection this spring as will board president Bruce Ewings and Darrell Thompson. According to Leipart, the top two vote getters on the ballot will be elected to three year terms with the third getting the two years remaining from Chaplinski’s term.
_ Formally thanked the Taylor County board of supervisors for releasing the revert clause on two parcels of school forest property. The release will allow the district to sell the parcels and put the money earned to use on school forest improvements at the primary school forest adjacent to the wayside on Hwy 64.
_ Formally thanked Taylor County and the village of Gilman with assigning a portion of their unused Road to Recovery grant dollars to the school district to help with the purchase of technology and equipment to assist with dealing with the COVID-19 issues. The county and village assigned approximately $41,000 from their allocations to the the school district which will use it to purchase 19 instructional monitors, equipment to run livestream events to allow the district to livestream all levels of athletics as well as other programs, and to purchase 6,000 pediatric disposable face masks.
_ Approved revisions to the teacher and support staff handbook. The changes primarily were to clean up language so that it was consistent throughout the document. Thompson questioned the use of titles specifically noting in some places an employee was referred to as being in human resources and other places as the director of business services. He said they should pick one title and use that to avoid confusion.
—Gilman District Administrator Walter Leipart about the need for staff members to serve as examples when it comes to wearing masks and following COVID-19 safety precautions.