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New ECASD superintendent talks about COVID-19 pandemic, Reopening of schools

Michael Johnson embraces the challenge ahead of him
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 4:45 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -

For the Eau Claire Area School District, the past few weeks has been a period of transition as Michael Johnson takes over as superintendent. Johnson addressed the continuing impact of COVID-19 and the district’s plan to reopen schools in the fall.

“We have to prepare for anything and everything. Whether it’s a 100 percent total virtual and 100 percent every student and staff member is back in school and everything in between,” says Johnson.

Michael Johnson says the district has been working with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department on its reopening plan.

Johnson says, “Because we all have to work together on this, there is no re-inventing wheels, although our communities and our school districts are definitely different there are so many things that we can share.”

Johnson says more than four-thousand parents responded to a survey sent out from the “Reopening of Schools Task Force” in May.

"What is most critical on parents' minds, could it be child care, could it be food, could it be technology, safety and security."

Johnson says he understands the concerns teachers, parents and students have about the importance of being in the classroom on September 1st.

"As a superintendent and as a parent I feel the same way, I love when kids are in school and our families feel the same way as do our staff and our administrators. What the key is we have to balance what we know from the health departments, CDC, all the guidelines and recommendations to ensure number one that kids are safe, but number two our staff is safe as well. We care deeply about them and then it impacts the entire community so the decisions that we will be making very soon will impact our students, families and the entire community."

Johnson admits he has been asked if he’s had any second thoughts about taking the job as superintendent in the middle of a pandemic. Having been a student, teacher, and coach throughout western Wisconsin, he says Eau Claire is very special to him and his family and he embraces the challenge in front of him.

“That’s the thing about COVID and the pandemic and being able to lead, it’s pretty easy for people to lead when things are going very well, but I think you see the true measure of a leader and hopefully the Eau Claire Area School District sees that when things are very difficult and this is definitely a time in our history that we’ll never forget, those of us in education and everyone in society. I need to surround myself with great people and inform that team to deliver the best we can for the students, staff and the entire community.”

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