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Schools, businesses call on community to get involved as school year approaches

The message is for parents take an active role in helping children navigate the safety measures in the era of COVID-19.
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 12:25 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Brown County school, business and health leaders are urging the community to step up and get involved to ensure students and staff can safely return to class this year.

"Now is the time we're asking everyone to become more involved than ever in what is happening with our children and the education systems in our region," says Kim Desotell, President, Green Bay Area Catholic Education.

The group held a press conference Wednesday outside Green Bay's City Stadium, the original home of the Green Bay Packers. It's a backdrop symbolic of the community's ability to rally together.

The message is for parents take an active role in helping children navigate the safety measures in the era of COVID-19.

"We are asking for community collaboration, support, understanding and flexibility as we embark on a school year that will be different than any other before," says Damian LaCroix, Howard-Suamico School District Superintendent.

The school district leaders say they emphasize the importance for everyone to follow these Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local guidelines:

--Wearing a face covering

--Socially distancing when around others

--Washing hands frequently

--Keeping children home when they do not feel well

--Talking to kids about important issues

"That's our ask of the community today. Follow CDC and state and local guidelines, let's all wash our hands, socially distance from those around us, and certainly, if you don't feel well, stay home," says Desotell.

“Talk to your children in our community, as one community, about these guidelines in terms they can understand and accept. Get children and others used to wearing masks as well as social distancing. Please monitor your own health and those around you. Keep a child home when they don’t feel well and when they may exhibit some symptoms linked to COVID-19”

Desotell and other Brown County school leaders have weekly meetings with local health care leaders to discuss learning in an age of coronavirus.

"As the school year progresses, all of us will continue talking to our local health experts and collaborating together," says Desotell.

The Green Bay Area Public School District is starting the school year with online learning.

"If we all join together in doing these things, it will put us on the path to eventually being able to fully reopen," said Green Bay Area Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Murley. "We know it won't be quick or easy, but it's necessary."

Camera Corner Rick Chernick says his business will be flexible with workers who have school-age children. The company also plans to try innovation when it comes to learning outside the classroom. He's urging other business to do likewise.

"If you haven't done so already, I'm urging all Brown County businesses to start thinking about ways we can help our workforce," says Chernick. "Supporting them when possible, even being flexible, in part, by their hours."

Chernick's wife came up with an idea for helping employees and their children at the same time.

“Why don’t we take our unused classrooms, board rooms, conference rooms, turn them into small virtual and social distanced classrooms for our own employees’ children. We’re going to try to contract with local teachers so they can virtually help us and give us general education for our own employees who need some help so they can do their job and yet take care of their children,” says Chernick.

The CEO says both bosses and workers will need to be flexible, and that means working different hours.

“You can’t work at standard 40-hour work week anymore. It’s no 8-5, although we’d like it to be. And it’s not a scheduled 12-1 lunch hour. We can’t do that. Everybody’s got to be flexible. Which frankly for our people who can work from home, we’re saying you might have to get up at 5 o’clock and do a couple of hours of work before the kids go to bed. You may have to stay up until 10 to do your job. As long as you do your job, we’re going to be flexible as an employer. And I encourage other employers to do the same,” says Chernick.

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