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Masks, Latex Gloves Define LUHS School Board Meeting

Wikimedia Commons-GP Reimer

MINOCQUA – The recent Lakeland school board meeting (March 23) brought home a surreal lesson of the coronavirus impact, in which nearly all board members and the few administration staff were wearing face masks and latex gloves. Even this reporter was offered a mask and disinfecting wipes. A few of the 9-member board listened in and voted via the telephone.

The meeting was short, just over 15 minutes, with the main topic ensuring hourly paid employees would also continue to receive paychecks during the state mandatory school shutdown, which goes until April 3. “The motion that passed was to continue to pay for hourly employees through April 15, so we can continue to plan for virtual learning with all of our students in the next couple few weeks and have our hourly employees be part of that plan,” said District Administrator Rob Way. Way said later that the April 15 date gives the board additional reaction time “to do our job during this very difficult time” if the mandatory shutdown is extended by the Governor Tony Evers.

A motion by Barry Seidel to pay “all employees” through April 15 failed with only three “yes” votes. Some members said the action was unnecessary, as teachers and administration staff were covered by contracts that guarantee pay during the school year. Way said the high school is providing virtual learning opportunities for both students and staff. “At the moment we are shifting from having resources available for all learners to having virtual instruction,” he said. “And we will work very hard to have educational resources and virtual learning available for all our students, keeping in mind the new governor’s regulations. We will be studying those over the next 48 hours, which may impact our plan to implement LUHS’s plan.”

The district encourages students with Internet access at home to check out Chromebooks to do homework and other assignments. Way said he and Administrator James Ellis from Minocqua-Arbor Vitae-Woodruff Elementary School were meeting March 24 to discuss ways to enhance learning for the two district’s charter schools for students on the autism spectrum. “And we will continue with social distancing and opportunities for our staff that may have challenges in getting Internet access... to do their jobs,” Way said.

While the school is closed, there are some administration staff and others working there. “Currently we have a skeleton crew to ensure operations are continuing,” he said. In other motions that night, the board approved altering the board’s policies to allow teleconference and live steaming of board and committee meetings