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Marathon struggles to keep doors open

With up to 35 percent of students in quarantine due to COVID-19, Marathon High School has been lucky to stay open, principal Dave Beranek told school board members last week Wednesday.

The principal said dealing with COVID-19 is a daily challenge for school staff. Each day, the student body changes, he said, as students ill with COVID-19 and their close contacts are sent into quarantine while recovering students and those in quarantine return to high school. Some students, said Beranek, have been quarantined three times this school year.

“It’s been a definite challenge,” he said. “We have been pushed to the limit of keeping the doors open.”

Beranek said his school has been “lucky” that enough staff has been able to stay healthy to fill in for other staff that have gotten sick with COVID- 19.

The principal said school learning is hurting due to the coronavirus.

“Academically, it has been hard on staff, students and parents,” he said.

Beranek said the district has obtained 10 additional “hot spots” that will be used to boost internet signal for families with students who must rely on virtual education.

The principal said that while the school tries to socially distance students, many classrooms do not allow proper social distancing.

He said he expects the overall coronavirus situation to get worse this winter, not better. Beranek said athletics has, to some extent, driven COVID-19 illness and that he worries about a shift from football to basketball where more games are played each week, increasing the chance of infection.

He said that the district is running out of substitute teachers to replace others that have come down with COVID- 19.

“We have subs for our subs right now,” he said.

Marathon Area Elementary School/Marathon Venture Academy principal Ryan McCain said his sub list is very short.

“We don’t have anybody left to call for subs,” he said. “Some subs won’t come in any more. We’ve exhausted our list.”

Board members said the district may need to increase substitute teacher pay.

Board member Jodi DeBroux said she had heard a district is paying substitute teachers $200 a day.

Marathon School District currently pays $105 a day for regular substitute teachers and $185 a day for longterm subs.