Eau Claire School Board approves in-person learning for all K-5 students, starting April 5

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 9:35 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Eau Claire Area School Board approved in-person learning for all students in grades K-5, during a special session Wednesday.

By a 6-to-1 vote, students in kindergarten through fifth grade would be back in the classroom four days each week starting April 5th – the Monday after spring break. Marquell Johnson was the board’s lone no-vote.

Some concerns included the inability to maintain 6 feet of distance with more kids in the classroom and bringing more students back before teachers are fully vaccinated. Having more students back in classrooms would also require more people to quarantine if there were an outbreak.

“It is very difficult to learn virtually especially when you are an elementary student. We thought it was a risk worth taking even though we will not be able to honor that six feet of distance in the classroom anymore but we have learned so much from other districts around the area and it was a risk we were willing to take but we are going to do the best we can with other mitigation measures,” says Superintendent Mike Johnson.

Several parents joined to share their thoughts – some eager to get their kids back in the classroom, but others hesitant about the existing health risk.

Under this plan, Wednesday will remain a cleaning day and families can choose to remain in a cohort for hybrid model learning.

Eau claire City-County Health Department director Lieske Giese says the size of the district makes it harder to maintain basic health guidelines like social distancing, but the vaccine opportunities on the horizon do offer some reassurance.

“The proposal that you have in front of you does have risk and I think you all know that it doesn’t meet the basic framework that CDC and the state and local health departments put forward,” Giese told the school board Wednesday. “But it does strategically and deliberately look at risks and consider ways to make sure that environment for K-through-5 is as safe as possible.”

Teachers will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on March 1st.

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