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Masks-Optional in the Classroom for Start of Northland Pines School Year

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

The Back-to-School plan starting Sept. 1 for Northland Pines school district was presented to the school board by district administrator Scott Foster with the full board voting to adopt the plan as presented along with adjustments during the school year if needed.

“Our goal is to return to in-person instructions for all students and to stay in session five days a week, create a safe environment for all students and staff, and to keep flexible in case change is needed,” Foster told the board. “We will start with face coverings optional and encourage all staff to get vaccinated.”

District administrators indicated many sources were used in the planning including the Vilas County health department, Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction and Health & Social Services, the Center for Disease Control, WIAA, survey of parents, students, and staff, along with insurance and legal opinions.

“For some a personal learning plan can be available but in-person learning is preferred,” Foster said, noting this year’s summer school program, Eagle Camp, “had one confirmed case and no confirmed spread.”

The district is encouraging screening of students at home by parents. There will be frequent sanitizing of hard surfaces, increased ventilation, limiting staff travel between buildings and changes to sick room procedures.

At school the focus will be hand washing and physical distancing of three plus feet. Class size will be determined by room size, recess will take place and lockers will have new arrangements to allow spacing. Food service will not use the field house.

Busing will have one child per seat but same families can be together. Face coverings on buses will be optional for elementary kids but mandatory for middle-high school until Sept. 13.

“With our experience from last year, we feel confident we can continue and to monitor isolation room cases,” Foster felt. He indicated there were no districts north of Stevens Point that required face masks but “if kids travel to a district that requires masks, we would require them to wear masks.”

The board approved the Back to School plan and voted to adopt the plan and to allow Foster and other administrators to make changes, if needed, without board action. Pines starts school Sept. 1.

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