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COVID-19 Impact Changes to Northland Pines School District Operations

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Changes and adjustments to operation of the Northland Pines school district in response to COVID-19 were reviewed by the district board of education this week that allows more community use of school facilities, additional leave for staff affected by the pandemic, modifications for student athletes, and vaccinations.

District administrator Scott Foster of all school staff and students they have had lower positive cases than the county.

“We’ve had both students and staff with COVID-19 and in all school divisions we’ve had 70 positive cases,” Foster said. “That’s about 5% of our total population whereas Vilas County reports close to 17% positive cases in their testing.”

Foster indicated the district will keep in-person learning which “has been a benefit” and there were only about 170 hybrid cases involving virtual and classroom learning.  It was noted more and more school districts across the state are returning to in-person classes.

The school board approved the middle-high school auditorium will again be open to the public for free walking. The hours are Monday-Friday from 5:30 am to 7:30 am and Saturday from 7:00 am to noon.

The board also approved an additional 10 days sick leave for staff effective Jan. 1, 2021 to be used specifically related to COVID-19. These additional days will be expire June 4, 2021 and will not be paid out if they are not used for COVID related illness or quarantine. The district modified self-quarantine form 14 days to 10 days per Center for Disease Control recommendations. 

Foster indicated the district is doing well and did not get the anticipated surge that Vilas County

Public Health thought might occur after Thanksgiving “so our plan is working; hand washing, sanitizing, masking, and social distancing.” The district cannot mandate staff get vaccinated.

The district elected to keep the 14 day self-quarantine for athletics rather than reduce it at the suggestion of WIAA guidelines.

Finally, with the additional work staff have to plan for and deliver, the board approved two days, Jan. 26 and March 1, for in-service activity.

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