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West De Pere School Board votes in favor of having students in class on Monday

A meeting was held for more than 3 hours
Published: Oct. 17, 2020 at 12:02 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - West De Pere School Board members met for three hours Saturday night to hear from parents, students, and teachers over the decision to allow children back to the classroom.

In a 4 to 1 vote, the school board continued with the district’s plans for in-person learning after holding a special meeting inside West De Pere High School to discuss the issue. The organized in response to a statement the city of De Pere and its health department made on Friday advising against in-person learning,

At the meeting, dozens of people spoke before the board voted in favor of and against having students on school grounds.

“I really hope that they start to be more transparent because I feel like they aren’t clearly reporting the number of cases that are in the schools when we were in person,” Adrianne Burns, who has kids enrolled in the district, said. She’s against having them in the classroom.

Dean Rassch, a De Pere Alderman, spoke in favor of bringing students back.

“In-person learning for students at West De Pere School District is safe. I trust that what you guys are doing is the right thing,” Raasch said. “I have a student in the school district as well.”

Natalie Buhl is a teacher at West De Pere High School and president of the teachers association, She’s against in-person learning.

“I’m an English major, so I don’t know the science. I just think it’s so important to listen to the people who know the science and when they’re giving us advice, I think we got to take it,” Buhl said.

One parent named Adam spoke in favor of allowing kids in the classroom saying, “you gave everyone the choice of in-person or if you’re not feeling safe, stay home. That is a choice a lot of kids in our did not get.”

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(Original) - School Board members of the West De Pere School District will hold a special meeting Saturday night.

The meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. in the West De Pere High School auditorium.

The event will also be held virtually on Zoom.

Zoom meeting information can be found below.

The district announced the meeting on Facebook Saturday morning after a message was sent to families and staff members late Friday afternoon regarding an advisory that would be sent by the city’s health department about in-person classes.

As Action 2 News has previously reported, the District had announced earlier this week they would be returning to in-person classes on October 19 after being in all virtual classes since October 5.

According to Dennis Krueger, the Superintendent for the West De Pere School District, district officials have been working with the city’s health department all along, including earlier this week.

Krueger says at that time health officials continued to state they wouldn’t provide recommendations to schools, however, his message to families says the department’s position seems to have changed, citing a message from the City of De Pere.

De Pere’s Health Department issued a release Friday afternoon, saying they advise against in-person learning, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s indicators, which say Brown County is in the highest risk level for transmission in schools. Their message states the CDC lists the area as producing more than 1,000 new positive COVID-19 cases within the past 14 days per 100,000 people.

Debora Armbruster, the director of the De Pere Health Department, issued the following statement in Friday’s release:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that there is currently uncontrolled spread of SARS-CoV-2 in much of our country, and we share their concern. What that unfortunately means, quite simply, is that while we all advocate and hope for in-person learning for our children due to numerous recognized mental, social and psychological benefits, the current widespread circulation of this virus will not permit in-person learning to be safely accomplished in many jurisdictions, including ours. De Pere is not an exception. The virus is here in our City and neighboring region, and spreading at unsafe levels. The De Pere Health Department cannot recommend in-person instruction at this time as a result."

James Boyd, the Mayor of De Pere, also issued a statement regarding the health department’s stance:

“I fully support the De Pere Health Department’s unwavering stance that in-person learning should not be conducted currently in our City,” Mayor Boyd said. "To be clear, as a former educator and coach for decades in the City of De Pere, including having been a teacher during the pandemic at the end of last school year, I fully empathize with the ongoing challenges facing staff, instructors, athletes, parents and students during this pandemic. These are difficult times, and I understand each of us longs for a sense of normalcy. However, we need to remain vigilant in stopping the spread of Covid-19. In-person instruction may pose significant, unnecessary risk to our students and staff, their family members or guardians at home, and the local businesses and organizations they are involved in or support. I urge everyone in in the City of De Pere – businesses, schools, community groups and residents alike – to remain proactive in supporting and maintaining safe conditions in our City.”

The City of De Pere has two separate public school districts - the West De Pere School District and the Unified School District of De Pere.

Officials in the Unified School District of De Pere decided to extend all classes to be held virtually until November 6 in a meeting on October 5.

In his message to families and staff, Krueger said schools, ranging from K-12 to universities, have been exempt from any state orders which limit public gatherings.

RELATED: Wisconsin governor announces limit on public gatherings amid COVID-19 outbreak

As Action 2 News previously reported, the latest emergency order issued by the state was halted by a judge earlier this week after the Tavern League of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit looking to block the emergency order. The order limited public gatherings to no more than 25% of a room or building’s total occupancy.

Check back for updates throughout the evening.

Special School Board meeting tonight at 8 p.m. in the West De Pere High School auditorium. Join Zoom Meeting:...

Posted by School District of West De Pere on Saturday, October 17, 2020

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