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UPDATE: Northland Pines Board Approves In-Person Schooling

Northland Pines School District

UPDATE: 12:00 p.m.

In a special meeting today (Monday, Aug 17) the Northland Pines school board voted unanimously to start school on Sept. 1 with all in-person classes for all students. In addition, the board voted unanimously to require all students to wear masks and to provide “mask breaks” during the school day where feasible.

The board also supported giving district administrator Scott Foster the authority to adjust the school days to A-B classes or even virtual classes should the county health department find positive cases in school age students.

The district has a full time nurse on staff but cannot dictate a student take the COVID-19 test; only the county health department can. Foster has identified a number of alternative sites where in-person classes could be held should that be necessary.

Below is an earlier version of the story.

The Northland Pines Schools  policy committee will ask the full school board to consider a split school week for upper grades if COVID cases continue to rise in Vilas County.

While it is the stated desire to have all students to return to in-person instruction on Sept. 1, district administrator Scott Foster proposed a possible adjustment for grades 7-12 in the middle and high school. “It’s what I refer to as the A-B plan where half of the students would attend for three days in a week with the other half two days per week and then flip it the following week,” Foster said. “We’ve received word from the county health department that they have found positive cases in all of Vilas County areas and starting to see more cases in the lower age brackets.”

Foster went on to explain if the A-B schedule is adopted and if there is a positive in one of the groups, the other group can continue in-person classes. All K4-6th grade elementary students would begin in-person classes in the three elementary schools five days per week.

Should face masks be required? It would be different for some areas of the school program according to Foster. “Some virtual parents say they won’t send their kids if masks are not required. In Eagle River and St. Germain the 4K students are not mixed so there would be no masks for four year olds,” he said. “In Land O’ Lakes we have mixed classes with Montessori and masks will be required.”

The full board will hold a special meeting tonight  to discuss and vote on the A-B proposal.

Other actions

the policy committee voted 2-1 to allow practice for cross country to begin Aug. 17 and all other sports to start practice Sept. 7. Foster did indicate the state may make a decision if to allow sports. Board member Jeff Shenk voted against the start of practice indicating his priority is “first and foremost to keep the doors open.”

The committee supported continuing the “school to work” program after at least three businesses supported it. There are about 20-25 students, mostly seniors, who take advantage of the program with committee chairman Chris Petreikis indicating “it’s one of the best programs we have.”

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