Colby K-12 sticks with July 2 commencement
Colby High School will host its 2020 graduation ceremony on July 2 as originally planned, giving graduates an opportunity to receive their diplomas in person on the football field as the event is live-streamed online.
The school board voted Monday to partially open district facilities in July, allowing for the commencement ceremony and three weeks of summer school.
Superintendent Steve Kolden said the district is working with the Clark County Health Department to make sure both the graduation and summer school classes are held in a way that minimizes the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
For the commencement ceremony, which will include 65 graduates collecting their diplomas, each graduate will be limited to four in-person guests.
“We will social distance out in the bleachers, spread everybody out,” Kolden said. “The seniors will sit with their immediate family.”
When a graduate’s name is called, he or she will go to the stage, pick up their diploma and flower, and pause for pictures — but there will be no handshaking or hugging like normal.
Kolden said the ceremony will still be able to feature all of its normal speakers, including the valedictorian and salutatorian, who will speak from a stage at the center of the football field.
The board agreed to designate Jean Schmidt as the board representative who will attend the ceremony and help distribute diplomas. Other board members were discouraged from attending in person, to help maintain social distancing.
“We’ll plan to stream it so people can watch it live, and then we’ll be able to have the video link out there,” Kolden said.
The rain date will be Aug. 13, which was the original back-up date set by the board if the July 2 ceremony was not able to be held due to COVID concerns.
“We will not move inside to do graduation in August,” he said.
For summer school, which starts on July 13 and runs for three weeks, small classes of 10 students per teacher will be held in person, with kids rotating in and out of the build to maintain social distancing.
Kolden said this will be done in close consultation with the health department, which recommends health screenings of students and staff along with social distancing.
The only thing that will cancelled in July is the district’s community education classes. Kolden said it would not be fiscally “appropriate” to run these classes at this time, especially with certain practical concerns. For example, he said it would be hard to hold swimming lessons with the students and instructors staying six feet apart at all times.
A motion to proceed with graduation and summer school in July passed with six yes votes and one abstention by board member Eric Elmhorst.
At its next meeting on July 20, the board will decide whether or not to proceed with fall sports practices and staff inservices, along with summer school and community ed. classes, in August.
Looking ahead to the fall, Kolden said districts are waiting for guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on starting the 2020-2021 school year. He said there will likely be multiple options to consider, including traditional face-to-face classes or a return to the online learning that was done for the last few months of the 2019-2020 school year.
A third option would be allow students into the schools on a rotating basis depending on the day of the week, which would allow more room in the buildings for social distancing.
Kolden said the district also needs to be prepared for the possibility of starting the school year like normal, but then having to shut the schools down again if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases.
“So, be prepared to go back to virtual,” he told the board members. “But, nobody is giving any defi nitive guidance right now.”
In a related matter, due to the uncertainty around next school year’s schedule, the board decided not to have the district publish 2020-2021 calendars, either as magnets or as full-size wall versions.
Kolden said administrators were already rethinking the calendars, since an updated one is always available on the district’s website.
“There is a lot of time and money that goes into putting these things together,” he said.
Board president Bill Tesmer said the board will look at restarting the physical calendars for the 2021-2022 school year.
_ The board accepted the resignations of choir teacher Kevin Spindler, elementary teacher Jill Spindler, high school agriculture teacher Taylor Ensign and lunch room computer aide Linda Vogel.
_ The board approved the hiring of Sonja Hasz as a special education teacher, Hannah Engevold as the junior varsity volleyball coach, Liz Baumgartner as the C-team volleyball coach, Jerry Smith as a shared athletic director, and Kevin Koehler as technology education teacher.
_ The board approved a one-time carry-over of unused personal days from 2019-2020 to the 2020-2021 due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
_ The board approved an upgrade of two rooftop air conditioning units at the elementary school for $98,186. The district’s portion will be $40,036, with the remaining $58,150 being covered by one of the contractors involved in installing the units in 2017.
_ The board approved $9,838 worth of upgrades to the ventilation system at the pool locker rooms, with the cost expected to be recouped in about three years due to $2,560 in annual energy savings.
_ The board voted to spend up to $75,000 on replacing several 53-year-old doors at the high school. The cost per door will vary depending on whether they are equipped with windows and ventilation.
_ The board approved the purchase of a Ford 250 van for $34,719, which will replace a 15-year-old maintenance van that is being traded in for $2,000.
_ The board approved $8,515 for installing 35 feet of drain tile near the middle school’s west entrance and replacing 63 feet of concrete sidewalk in that area. Kolden said the drain tile will remove snow melt runoff that accumulates between the middle and elementary school, creating a safety hazard when it freezes.
_ The board approved $2,660 for installing concrete sidewalk on the east side of the elementary school gym, replacing rock that damages the snowblower used to clear a fire escape route.
_ After meeting in closed session, the board approved an addendum to Kolden’s contract, rolling some of his paid benefits into his salary for the next three years.
_ The board approved a motion to switch payroll secretary Sara Uhlig from hourly to salaried.
_ Kolden informed the board that he gave social studies teacher Ben Bartelt a $1,251 raise to match a job offer from Loyal.