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January 25, 2022

12/2/2021 10:50:00 AM
Community input on safe return to in-person heard

Like everyone else in education the Highland school board would like more guidance when it comes to COVID protocol.
The board held a public appearance portion to their monthly meeting Wednesday that satisfies ESSER III funding requirements. The scope of the community input session was to receive input to in-person instruction and continuity of service.
One of the items discussed was how the athletic conferences the Cardinals compete in have for COVID protocols. This winter the boys and girls basketball teams will play their conference games in the Six Rivers West but will have non-conference games vs teams in the SWAL SWC, Ridge and Valley and Six Rivers East. Except for the SRE the other conferences have tweaks to their protocol as the follow guidelines in the county or counties where they are located.
Additionally, the wrestlers compete in a co-op with Iowa-Grant, a member of the SWAL.
Teams competing in the various conferences do what they can to follow protocol guidelines to be able to play their schedule.
The biggest issue the student athletes and the various programs face deals with quarantines. There are guidelines suggested by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and guidelines required by the various county health departments.
"The county is able to add things to their guidelines," said District Administrator Bryce Bird.
Highland Principal Josh Tarrell said he has talked with the Iowa County Health Department about quarantining and asked if a student with close contact could attend classes and be masked.
"I was told not at this time," Tarrell said.
He added he is worried about the control the county health department has as it seems different for parents, staff and students.
Bird said issues arise when different county protocols are not followed because teams will not play teams not in line with their rules.
"It would be much easier if there were mandates instead of leaving things optional," said Bird.
Brad Tucker addressed the board and said the word "recommend" is what causes the problems.
He pointed out there have been problems with someone having to be quarantined after shaking hands for a second at the end of a football game and he pointed out that wresting will have close contact too.
"Some matches go 30 seconds and others longer," he said. "I would not like to see someone wrestle for a few seconds then have to quarantine."
"Why can't we make our own decisions?" Tucker asked. "When it comes to making policy it is just one word."
Board president Mike Dreischmeier said Tucker's opinions are duly noted.
"Administration will look into it," he said. "There are several things here that administration can speak with the county about."
Dreischmeier said those wanting to comment who were unaware of the public session can email the administration,
Bird said the COVID guidelines/protocols are on the school website.
A later discussion about vaccinated and non-vaccinated students and staff and how they are affected by quarantining requirements it was pointed out by Bird that vaccination is something that cannot be disclosed or discussed.
"The only person who has access to that knowledge is the school nurse," he added.
Bird also said it is fortunate that COVID is not at the level it was at this time last year but that does not give a good answer to quarantining.
Tarrell added that whatever decisions are made will be what everyone wants.
"But the community has been outstanding in helping with the COVID problems," he said.
In another item before the board Bird gave an update on a meeting of the governing board for Charter Schools. Highland's charter is. due to expire this year and Bird asked if it should be considered for renewal.
"There are not as many benefits as there were when we started with the Charter School program," he said. He added he is checking on changes, options and the possibility of a lifetime license.
He also said if the decision is to return to a traditional model the start of the school year has to be after September 1 unless there is a building project underway that would affect the start date. Teacher licensing requirements are also changing Bird said.
Dreischmeier added that there have been a lot of changes to make the Charter program not as meaningful.
The board will continue its study.
Tarrell told the board he is starting to work on a program that will make students aware of what is and is not acceptable when it comes to proper conduct and language that could be deemed hurtful to others, He said he has discussed with staff the need to put an end to it if they see it happening and is considering a program that would include a guest speaker and staff training.
"I have started gathering resources to halt this problem," Tarrell said, He added he plans to send a district wide communication in the next couple weeks calling attention to the problem and asking parents to help.
Tarrell told the board three members have been added to the National Honor Society--Harper Drury, Grace Dreischmeier and Colton Frost.
Tarrell also thanked the sponsors who helped fund the live stream for the post season play-offs and also for a wind chime donated in memory.
-The board accepted a snow removal bid from Benish Construction which was the only bid received.
-Approved as trip to Washington, DC for the middle school for July 22-25 2003. Staff members Daniel Pulvermacher and Jasen Scanlan have indicated they will attend and chaperone along with parents and tour staff.
-Approved one open enrollment request for a student entering the district,
-Approved the 2022-23 course descriptions with very few changes.
-Accepted the resignation of school nurse Sharon Friederick who has accepted a position with UW-Platteville.
-Approved hiring of a night custodian,.

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