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January 28, 2022

12/2/2021 10:49:00 AM
Face coverings still required at Barneveld
At Wednesday's Barneveld Board of Education meeting, board members voted to continue the current face covering requirement.
At this time, the Barneveld District has required face coverings and has not been close contact tracing.
District Nurse Chelsea Olday presented board members with case numbers and scenarios that could happen if the district decided to make face coverings optional. She stated that there are a couple scenarios to look at, and that the Iowa County Health Department recommends close contact tracing if the district were to choose optional face coverings. She also stated that virtual instruction would need to be revisited.
"Because you are going to maybe have some unvaccinated students, and students not wanting to test that will be out for 14 days," Olday said. "And that puts us at risk of classrooms being shut down."
It was reported that to date, there have been seven positive cases for students and staff for this year. So far Barneveld has conducted 28 tests, with 0 cases having leeway to transmission within the building. Olday said that Barneveld district is comparable with Highland results, however it is known that there is room for movement.
A matrix was presented with end results that could happen, both for required masking and making masking optional. If the school were to consider continuing masking, the goal would be to keep in person learning, with no interventions such as contact tracing, the school could continue without interruption. If the school were to consider optional masking (with in person learning as the goal), intervention would involve close contact tracing, and the end result could be either virtual learning or masking required.
Olday also asked staff members their thoughts of masking becoming optional, starting January 18. Concerns highlighted the potential average of 14 days with no instructional guidance, other than paper homework if virtual learning was not an option. There would also be the possibility of having to clean all surfaces between each class, whether high school or elementary. Liability was also a concern. Olday said a staff member felt they would feel a high level of liability if something happened to one of their students, or there is a possibility of peer pressure if a child was in a classroom with 17 other students not wearing face coverings.
The top three options were: to remain masked with no changes, remain masked (with classrooms being at teacher's discretion at any time), or masking optional until a positive case was present.
Board member Denise Douglas felt it was hard to find a starting point, with so many variables. She also pointed out that students ages 5-11 are beginning their vaccinations, with second vaccinations beginning three weeks after.
"Some are not going to get the vaccine, that's their choice," Douglas said. "With running into Thanksgiving and such, we almost have to look at leaving it as is and revisiting after the second vaccine."
Olday pointed out that she asked several students and most responded that they prefer wearing masks if they don't have to contact trace or go to virtual learning. Olday added that she spoke with the county and the agreement was to make it through the holidays.
"Last year we ran into having to contact families before Christmas and tell them that they would have to quarantine," Olday said. "Having a template would be reassuring to the general population of parents who want to see the other side of things."
Board member Brad Zander asked if there is something concrete that could tell the district that they would not have to adhere to recommended guidelines (wearing masks, contact tracing). He felt he has been ready for a while. Board member Tadd Owens said that he would point out the Iowa County dashboard, and would feel ready if the Iowa County dashboard had all greenlights.
Board member Rhonda Mullin said there are so many data points to look at, and its difficult to point out what would make someone comfortable with forgoing recommendations.
"We're already not contact tracing, because we're masking," Zander said. "We may reach a point where we aren't doing what the county tells us, and maybe some of us won't get there. If there isn't something concrete I understand."
Board member Nick Meyer said that for most it's not necessarily a "number" and more about a person's "level of comfort and opinion."
"We all have very different opinions," Meyer said. "I feel its going to be an issue for a lot of people. If we go from day one everyone having to wear masks, to the next day making masks optional, I don't think we're going to see a spike in numbers (positive cases), I think we're going to see a spike in panic for certain people. That's not what I want. I've seen a majority of people, when out of this building, not wearing a mask if they are not in a building in Dane County. I feel that masking should be optional starting tomorrow, but I understand that's not going to happen."
District Superintendent Joe Price said by the time school is back in session after winter break, anyone that wants to get vaccinated has had the opportunity to do so. He added that there isn't a metric to when requirements would end, and there will have to be a decision at some point to move on.
"Some people are going to be happy and some people are going to be upset on what the decision is," Price said. "My thoughts are to get through the winter holiday. I like Chelsea's realm of thought in terms of the two week window after getting back from Winter break in January. By that time, we'll see where the numbers are. This can't be a perpetual motion."
With that, board members voted to maintain the current face coverings policy, requiring all students and staff to wear masks with no contact tracing.
In other business:
-Board members voted to increase substitute pay to $130 per day, then $160 after 10 days served in the district in a calendar year, starting after the passing of the substitute increase.
-Board members voted to raise current internal substitute pay from $15-$30 per hour.
-The district is gathering information and quotes to replace the school marquee sign. The current sign is beyond repair.
-Board members approved adding a paraprofessional staff member for special education for 20-30 hours per week.
-Board members approved a contract for Pamela Clerkin for third grade.
-Board members approved early graduation requests for two students to graduate in January and one graduating in March.
-Board members approved a first reading for Policy 830 regarding public use of school facilities.
-Board members approved a first reading for Policy 345.6 regarding graduation requirements
-Board members approved a first ready for Policy 171 for school board meetings.

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