B-W School Board approves mask mandate

Gerald Gerrits

Masks were a popular topic during the Baldwin-Woodville School Board meeting Sept. 21.

On the agenda was the request to extend the mask mandate as it was the last possible Board meeting date before the statewide mandate ends on Sept. 28.

Before a decision, staff members made their feelings known.

High School History teacher Gerald Gerrits said he created an anonymous survey among the staff so in which they could share their feelings if the mandate should be extended.

Among the high school staff, 42 out of 47 said yes to extension, 29 of 32 at Greenfield Elementary approved as well and finally 55 of 76 at the middle school said yes.

Overall, he said, over 80 percent of staff approved.

“Why wouldn’t we want to continue this policy so we could keep students, staff and their families safe?” he said.

7th grade Science teacher Dennis Paquette also spoke on extending the mandate.

“We are doing what we love to do, be back in school with the students,” Paquette said. “We are hopeful the mask mandate remains in place.”

He further stated what’s causing the most confusion are students coming to school with notes from their parents excusing them from wearing masks because “they heard they could opt out,” Paquette continued.

“There are a growing number of students who are testing the masks rule, because they heard teacher can’t enforce it…Teachers’ hands are being tied.”

Parent Tony Birleffi said they made the decision to enroll their kids in virtual school the first semester because they felt the mask mandate wouldn’t be in place. He also asked the District for more information about COVID-19 on its website.

Parent Charlotte Heimer believed the kids are doing fine in the current situation.

“They are resilient,” she said. “They just want to be with their friends…A majority of kids want to be here.”

Said Board member Denise Monicken: “If we are going to extend the mask deadline, more kids are going to ask out. Yet, they have to know going to school is a privilege, not a right and they should respect it.”

After further debate and discussion, the motion was made to extend the mask deadline and students wouldn’t need to wear one unless they received a doctor’s note or it’s listed in their IEP.

“When does it end?” commented board member Jay Larson. “When are they going to end it? (A day later, Gov. Tony Evers voted to extend the mask deadline through November)

The vote to extend the deadline was 4-2 with Larson and Ken Dykhouse voting no. Brad Coplan was absent.

Spectator Guidelines

Heading into the Board meeting, students weren’t allowed for indoor athletic events.

Seniors Colin Campbell and Gabby Monicken tried to persuade the Board to change it.

“The student section is a place where we can come together and support our team,” Monicken said. “We want to continue to make memories even during a pandemic. It’s our senior year, we would like to make most of what we can.

Campbell said a petition was signed by 187 students who pledged to stay safe, be social distant and wear masks for athletic events.

High School Principal David Brandvold said the decision to exclude students was based off what was occurring in Prescott and Ellsworth – two Middle Border Conference students who aren’t even allowing fans at events.

Chimed Monicken: “Why can’t they ben in a gym where masks are mandated and keeping to safe?”

Brandvold said in response the proximity to players and policing.

“How are we going to police once they’re inside? “ he continued. “…We are not going to be disappointed what is decided tonight. We want our kids to safely attend, we are suggesting right now we put a lid on it.”

After more debate, the motion was made to bring back high school students, which passed unanimously.

Personnel Moves

The following hires were approved:

• Jennifer Firtz as a paraprofessional

• Jodi Engler, Charlotte Rock, Brittany Berguist as special education paraprofessional

• Troy Kamm as a night custodian

• Maggie Whipple as assistant all school play director

• Ashton Buss as all school play art and design coordinator

• Corissa Vought as high school student council advisor

• Mauritz Kool as head girls soccer coach

• Nathan Franey as an assistant girls soccer coach

• Graham McFall as middle school boys basketball coach

• Joanna Friedman as a middle school volleyball coach

• Keith Steudemann as assistant boys soccer coach

• Hope Tiffany as volunteer girls golf coach

• Michelle Sell, Kari Laesch, Tasha Forehand, Miranda Moore, Jeena Norenberg, Erin Knegendorf and Robin Anderson as volunteer cheerleading coaches

Resignations were granted:

• Rob Skamfer as middle school boys basketball coach

• Sarah Monson as a special education paraprofessional

• Casey Holm as a night custodian

• Rich Carlson as a food service worker

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