School buildings to reopen July 1

A plan for reopening public school buildings in the Rice Lake Area School District  as of July 1 was approved by the Rice Lake Board of Education.

At Rice Lake High School, the band room will be open for summer band lessons, and the weight room equipment will be socially distanced and spread into the wrestling room for athletes to sign up to use.

The Rice Lake Middle School and Tainter Elementary buildings will be used for summer school between July 20 and Aug. 14. (See separate story).

The school buildings will not be open for public use until further notice. The tennis/pickle ball courts, and other outdoor facilities, will be open for the capacity allowed by health guidelines.

School tops survey results

Results from surveys of parents and staff  in the Rice Lake Area School District on preferred learning options show that the majority of parents and staff would like to have in-person school in the fall.

District administrator Randy Drost shared the results at the Rice Lake Board of Education’s virtual meeting June 22.

Of responding parents, 75% preferred in-person school, 14% were in favor of a blend of in-person and virtual  learning and 6% wanted to continue with distance education.

Of the 315 staff responses, two-thirds wanted to return to in-person school, with a blended form of education preferred by 21% and, like parents,  6% wanting to continue distance learning options.

Because of the unknowns with the virus still out there, Drost said his plan moving forward is to create preliminary steps for all three scenarios.

Early start back-to-school?

The School Board passed a resolution to request a waiver from the Department of Public Instruction that would allow for an early start  date for the 2020-2021 school year.

In part, the request for an early start reads: “The timing of the health emergency has created a lack of face-to-face instruction that will be almost 6 months if we wait until Sept. 1. The socio-economic disparity in our district put our students at greater risk of falling behind and facing greater obstacles. The Board of Education and community agree we need to return our students to school as soon as possible.”

No determination has yet been made on a start date; the waiver would be an option  for consideration by the board later this summer.

Other actions

• Approved the resignation of Connie Henkel, media aide at the High School; and the hiring of Erika Spear, school counselor, and Emily Sheplee, junior varsity volleyball coach, both at RLHS.

• Approved the preliminary budgets presented by each of the building principals.

• After closed session, approved payment of $163,100 toward the transportation contract for the 2019-2020 school year.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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