School Board decides virtual, in-person instruction dates

Emilie Conlon, Editor-in-Chief

The River Valley School Board met late last week to discuss instruction for students between Thanksgiving and the New Year, voting on a plan to continue with a hybrid model of instruction through the end of 2020. 

Following going towards all virtual instruction earlier this month, through Nov. 30, the board decided that students will remain in virtual instruction until Dec. 4, and will return for in-person learning Dec. 7-23. 

Wednesday’s, Dec. 9, 16 and 23, will remain virtual learning days, as all Wednesdays have been since the start of the school year. 

Dec. 23 through Jan. 3 is the district’s scheduled winter break, and students will not attend school in-person or virtually. 

Following winter break, from Jan. 4-8, students will return to school virtually. Jan. 11, students will return to school in-person, with Wednesday remaining as virtual instruction days. 

The Sauk County Public Health Department recommended to schools to plan to have students attend school virtually from Nov. 30 to Jan. 8, while continuing with scheduled holiday breaks. 

“This time apart from congregating in the school buildings will work as a natural quarantine period to slow the spread of COVID-19 and allow students to return to school in 2021,” according to the recommendation from the health department. 

“This is a preventative measure, and it actually affects our school calendar, so that’s why it’s a school board issue, it’s not an administrative issue,” said Kathy Jennings, school board president, regarding the recommendation from Sauk County. “That’s why we’re here as a board to talk amongst ourselves, this is a board decision.” 

The board voted 6-2 on the above dates for virtual and in-person instruction. 

The board also discussed the plan for winter sports and co-curricular activities, and voted 5-3  to move forward with winter sports and activities. 

For spectators at winter sports, the board determined, 7-1, that each player or participant will receive two passes, which is the same procedure used for fall sports and activities. 

School Board Member, Sara Young, representing area six, the village of Spring Green, spoke emotionally about concerns she held in moving forward with winter sports and activities. 

“I’ll just say it, …I also see that [there’s] no appetite in the group to curtail winter sports and activities. I mean, … some of you know that I’m actually leading a major activity, I’m directing and volunteer-directing the musical. And every night, I worry that, about the ramifications of what, are going, what’s going on with that. I also see kids having a really amazing experience,” said Young, holding back tears. “So and I obviously struggle, but, you know, should I be the adult in the room who’s saying, ‘no, we shouldn’t be doing this?’ But I just don’t think there’s any appetite, and if sports are going to keep going then we’re going to keep the musical going.”