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HAZEL GREEN, Wis.–The Southwestern School Board, at its meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 12, decided to move to a hybrid model for fifth through 12th grade. Elementary school students will remain in school five days per week, and preschool students will attend four days per week. The decision was made after school officials had discussions with the county health department and taking into account the increasing number of COVID cases in the district. The initial plan by the district was to move to in-person learning five days a week.
The district is set to start school on Monday, Aug. 31.
The students in grades five-12 will be split into two groups, an “A group” and a “B group.” The district will have the A group attend in person on Mondays and Wednesdays while the B group attends virtually through live streams. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the B group will attend in person and the A group will attend virtually through live stream. On Fridays, students will attend virtually with teachers live streaming. An early release will remain in place for staff to work in their professional learning communities.
Attendance will be taken by the district and recorded as if students were attending in person.
The school is also working with staff to ensure the district is prepared if the district needs to go fully remote at a moment’s notice, similar to last spring.
The board also recommended that athletic director Tom Koeller vote in favor of moving football to the spring. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) is leaving the decision of moving sports from the fall to the individual districts and conferences. Koeller said the conference has been meeting regularly to discuss their options.
On Monday, Aug. 17, the Southwest Athletic League (SWAL) met to discuss plans for the upcoming fall sports season, which was supposed to begin practices on Sept. 7. The initial vote was tied, 4-4, to move football to the spring. The conference is still assessing the situation. Later that day, the Six Rivers Conference, in which Benton and Shullsburg compete, decided to move football to the spring. Volleyball is still being played in the fall. The decision by the Six Rivers has the potential of influencing the SWAL decision.
The board also:
•approved the retirement of Mary Steck, elementary school and middle school speech pathologist.
•approved installing a sidewalk along the parking lot of the middle school and high school and along Wildcat Lane.
•approved a contract with School Pay to allow the school to utilize payment by credit cards.
•approved an updated Title IX policy.