The School District of Reedsburg will remain in the hybrid model in the midst of the holiday season with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise.
At the school board’s Nov. 16 meeting at the Cal Center, the motion for the school district to switch to 100% virtual learning from Nov. 30 to Jan. 10 failed because no one seconded the motion, said District Administrator Tom Benson in a follow up interview Nov. 17.
The item was a recommendation from Sauk County Public Health as a way to control the virus in the schools and community with the anticipation some residents will travel and host gatherings outside of their households between Thanksgiving and Christmas. With the item not passing, it means Reedsburg will remain in the hybrid model, but Benson said that could change depending on what officials see with trends in the coronavirus.
“At least for the present time we are going to continue to operate in that form,” Benson said.
Other schools around the state have decided to make the switch to virtual learning as a way to control the virus throughout the holidays. Locally, Necedah School District in Juneau County decided to go fully virtual from Nov. 19 until Jan. 4.
In Reedsburg, as of Nov. 13, the number of absent and quarantined students and staff members the school district has reported is at 219 for students and 33 for staff, according to the COVID-19 dashboard on the school district’s website. There are currently 6 active cases of students and 11 staff who have reportedly tested positive for the virus with 32 recovered cases for students and 25 staff members recovered.
The school board unanimously approved to hire up to seven new elementary school teachers. The idea is to create more additional classrooms, possibly at Ironton-La Valle or Loganville Elementary Schools, to keep students social distanced and potentially move to four days a week in-person learning. The school board discussed the measure at a special meeting held Nov. 4 for the same reasons.
The teachers will serve grades 4K-2nd, according to documents on the board’s meeting website Simbli. The goal is to have the new teachers begin Jan. 4 and work through the remainder of the current school year. Benson said Reedsburg has received about 7 to 8 applications for teachers, but is hoping more will apply to have a larger pool of quality candidates to choose from.
About 18% of students in grades 4K-2 are opting for the 100% virtual program while about 512 students attend through the hybrid model, according to board documents. The elementary school switched back to hybrid learning Nov. 9 after it had briefly been in a four-day a week in-person learning model due to trends in COVID-19 in the area.
Benson said the idea with hiring additional teachers is to move current teachers and staff, mainly those teaching 100% virtually, out of Pineview and Westside Elementary School to Loganville or Ironton-La Valle Elementary School, rather than move students. Those new teachers would teach in classrooms at Pineview or Westside.
Benson said it’s likely anyone who wants to switch to Ironton-La Valle or Loganville would be voluntary, a decision made between families and students.
“If there are families who want to choose to have their child attend Loganville or La Valle we’d like to work with them to make that happen,” Benson said.
The board approved to extend its contract with Aramark, the district’s facilities management company, for five years beyond the current agreement. The new contract will expire in June 2027.
Juneau County Star-Times reporter Chris Jardine contributed to this report.
Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.
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