Back to normalcy
SPASH students to resume in-person instruction
By Olivia De Valk
STEVENS POINT – High school students in the Stevens Point school district will be back in school four days per week starting April 5.
The Stevens Point school board voted on bringing back high school students during a special board meeting held Feb. 22. The meeting came after a petition started by students to move back to in-person instruction. The petition was signed by about 1,300 students, parents, and community members.
There was a counter petition circulating, but it has not yet been presented to the board.
Cory Hirsbrunner, assistant superintendent, said that when considering CDC recommended case rates, the district is at a place where, “the CDC would say it’s okay for you to try bringing students back into your building more frequently.”
The CDC continues to recommend the use of masks and physical distancing to prevent the spread of the COVID virus.
Students will still be required to wear masks in their classes, but with all students being back in school four days a week, physician distancing will be difficult.
“We are going to assure distancing to the greatest extent possible,” Hirsbrunner said
This involves moving furniture out of some classrooms to create more space for students to spread out.
Currently, there is no plan to test students or staff members for the virus.
Superintendent, Craig Gerlach visited district schools the week of Feb. 15 to get feedback from staff.
Some staff members were concerned and wanted to make sure that all staff were vaccinated before returning students to school.
“We can’t control that. The vaccine and when we get it is outside of our control. Our recommendation is still to bring kids back without the guarantee that all staff will be vaccinated,” Hirsbrunner explained.
Other staff were supportive of the decision, and feel it is time to get kids back in school.
The board also found that the majority of families who weighed in on this issue were also in support.
The board will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as necessary. It is possible, Gerlach said, that students will be back in school five days a week by the end of the school year.
The plan also acknowledges that schools may need to shift back to the cohort model and that sections or schools may be closed due to spread of the virus.
The goal of everyone is to get kids back in school. The question of when was an important one for some.
Ann Vang, board member, emphasized it’s important to offer parents who may not want to send their children back to school just yet an alternative.
“Let’s get them back to some normalcy,” Vang said. “We’re trying to get the schools opened back five days a week, but…”
Brock Maddox is the founder of the Freedom Fighters Central Wisconsin and a parent of a child in the district.
Maddock was in the parking lot of Bliss Educational Services Center during the special board meeting to show his support for reopening the schools.
“We’re trying to get the schools opened back five days a week, and we can readjust the situation after they open five days a week. We understand it’s going to be a continuous battle,” Maddock said. “Let’s get them back to some normalcy.”