Prairie du Chien HS to go virtual until Nov. 19

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By Ted Pennekamp


COVID-19 related issues dominated the regular Prairie du Chien School Board meeting again Monday night.

It was reported that there had been 30 people, including support staff, teachers and students who had tested positive within the school district as of Monday night. There were nine active positive cases at that time. Also, there were 130 people who are under quarantine, including support staff, teachers and students.

Several substitute teachers have been helping out in the face of teacher shortages due to the pandemic.

Aside from the school board meeting Monday night, in a letter to parents sent Tuesday afternoon by District Administrator Andy Banasik and School Nurse Ashley Burns, Prairie du Chien High School will be moving to virtual learning starting Wednesday, Nov. 11. This move is due to two positive cases of high school staff, subsequent quarantines of other staff, and a shortage of substitutes to fill the positions. There are no student close contacts identified for either of these two high school staff cases. The district’s current plan is to return to its blended/face-to-face/virtual learning options on Thursday, Nov. 19.

Bluff View, BA Kennedy, The Cove, and the Life Skills House will continue with the same educational platform of face-to-face and online learning for students. Students, parents, and staff will be notified if there are additional future educational changes to programming.

“Thank you for your continued support in protecting the health, safety, and well-being of our students, staff, and community. We appreciate you,” the letter said. 

Crawford County Nurse Cindy Riniker had recommended that the Prairie du Chien District have grades 7-12 go all virtual for two weeks. The board voted 4-2 Monday night to keep school as it is unless teacher and staff shortages became so severe that face-to-face instruction would be rendered impossible. Nick Gilberts and Cassie Hubanks voted in favor of having all virtual for two weeks. Board member Duane Rogers was absent.

Riniker also recommended that there be no contact sports for the winter season. The board voted 4-2 to have all high school winter sports, which will be operating under Southwest Wisconsin Conference and WIAA guidelines regarding COVID. Gilberts and Hubanks voted against having winter sports.

District Administrator Andy Banasik told the board that there is a prom planned for Saturday at the Dousman House in Prairie du Chien. The prom is not supported nor associated with the school district. Banasik recommended that the district try to persuade the prom organizers to postpone the event until the spring.

The prom is for seniors and their dates. About 60-70 students are expected to attend. It was noted that some seniors have dates who are from other area schools.  

Board President Lonnie Achenbach said he will take attendance at the prom and make a list of students to give to the Prairie du Chien District and to other school districts in order to facilitate any contact tracing that may be needed as a result of the prom. Achenbach also started to make a motion by which prom goers would be quarantined for at least two weeks following the prom, but after much discussion by the board, Achenbach did not complete his motion and no vote on the matter of quarantining was taken.

High School Principal Paul Weisse proposed to the board that seniors who do well in the school’s Achievement Program be allowed to win tickets to winter sports events and that the winning student could bring guests. Weisse said this would result in about 20 students as fans at each winter sports event, and that all COVID protocols would be followed. The board voted 4-2 to deny this proposal.

Other Business

In other business, the board:

•noted that the seats held by Lonnie Achenbach, Michael Higgins and Tom Peterson are up for election in April.

•noted that through the efforts of the Prairie du Chien Street Department, Dan Titlbach, Nick Gilberts, Blair Dillman (who donated rock), Gale and Cheryl Beneker (who donated black soil), and the Forestry Class with Kelly Renner, helped to complete the rain garden at the high school.

•noted that there have been numerous donations by area residents, businesses and organizations to the school district including monetary donations as well as various items for the schools and students.

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