Wautoma Area School District returns to in-person learning

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The Wautoma Area School District held their monthly school board on Dec. 14 where they discussed the transition from their current hybrid schedule to four days of in-person learning.

 

On Monday, Dec. 7, an announcement to parents and staff was sent out by District Administrator Tom Rheinheimer stating the schools would return to in-person learning on Dec. 14.

Currently, Wednesdays continue to be designated as a day for teachers to prepare instruction and to communicate with students who are quarantined, full-time virtual, and in-person. In order to make the transition back to in-person learning, the administration team has been keeping a close eye on COVID trends in Waushara County over the two months of hybrid learning.

With a decrease in the number of quarantined students and staff and a decrease in active cases, the decision was announced that the District would switch back to full-time learning.

According to Rhein-heimer, as long as the District can keep the schools staffed, they will remain learning in-person. “We are prepared to handle the bumps in the road and have students back in school,” he said.

The Board also discussed student’s academic standings as they are only learning 80 percent of the required curriculum for their grade level. With higher education institutions looking at grade point averages and extra-curriculars rather than the ACT scores for enrollment, Board President Ross Peterson wants the District to ensure students are getting the best education possible and are being graded fairly. The topic will continue to be an ongoing discussion with the administrative team and the WASD Board of Education.

 

“We want to make sure we are not giving away free grades and that we also aren’t over penalizing our kids,” Peterson stated.

The Board was also addressed by Alysson Bowden of Parkside School. She expressed her gratitude for the Wednesday workday, as it has been beneficial for the staff. Bowden believes the quality of online instruction has increased with the extra time the teachers have to prepare for lessons, which has been beneficial to all of the students.

A presentation was given during the evening by Director of Curriculum and Instruction Sierra Steuerwald on a new Computer Science course at the high school level. The board watched a video on the importance of the subject, as technology has quickly taken over how we live. David Mueller, the Wautoma High School chemistry teacher, has expressed his interest in teaching the subject. The cost would be low to add the course, as the software students would use is a free download. The main task would be getting the textbooks for the classroom. A second semester course will eventually be added, but for now the Board has approved the new course proposal of Computer Science I, 1st Consideration.

A decision was made for the new school bus fleet camera system that was discussed in the prior month’s meeting. The finance committee had met, with a bus driver strongly advocating for the system. The board approved the purchase of the Gatekeeper system for $65,000.

Another topic that was brought up at the November Board Meeting was the state-donated face mask material causing possible harm to individuals. Rheinheimer did look into the masks provided by the State of Wisconsin and was able to receive an answer from the state health department regarding the question of the chemicals used in the masks. The school did not receive the medical masks that contain the sterilization chemical, meaning the masks are not harmful to those who wear them.

 

The Board went on to approve the retirement of Jillene Krempp, A+ After School Enrichment Leader; the hiring of Andrew Bollant, Girls Basketball, Grade 7 Head Coach; and the McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center Board Member.

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