Schools prepare for the upcoming school year

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 7:00 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The first day of school is right around the corner for many students, and parents have been asking questions about COVID-19 safety protocols and masks.

As of Monday, Stevens Point and Marshfield school districts will be requiring masks for all students, staff and visitors. Wisconsin Rapids school district is requiring masks, but only for those in Kindergarten to Eighth grade.

Those that are just recommending face coverings are Wausau, Merrill and D.C. Everest school districts.

Some may be wondering how schools are going to protect your kids as they head into the classroom, and Prairie River Middle School in Merrill and Roosevelt Elementary School in Plover have been getting ready for the upcoming school year. All while making sure they are following protocols set into place by their districts.

And COVID-19 concerns and controversy have led to different districts making different decisions.

“Our number one job as a school district is to keep kids safe,” Principal for Roosevelt Elementary, Kelly Snyder-Chase said. “That’s all we’re focused on, is how do we keep our kids safe in person, five days a week and to the best of our ability.”

The school’s protocols look exactly like they looked last school year, with increased cleaning, social distancing and water fountains will only be used for filling up bottles. “As well as working with the county for contact tracing and those pieces that come along when there may be a positive case,” Snyder-Chase said.

She said last year, they didn’t have much trouble when it came to masking behavior. “If they came down, it was a simple reminder and then they came back up, I really had no significant behavior issues with students related to masks, they handled that transition really well.”

She added that accommodations will be made to those who need it.

As for Merrill School District, the superintendent said they did bring the recommendation for masks to the school board back in May. “But our board also makes the decision as nine members of the community, so they have to put what the community’s best interest on the table,” Superintendent for Merrill Area Schools, John Sample said.

The district said they will be following closely to the same protocols as last year. except, no required masks. The superintendent said they will be social distancing and sanitizing surfaces. “And that’s not the responsibility of just our custodial staff, that’s a responsibility for everybody,” Sample explained.

He said they also have a partnership with a testing facility. “We want to be sure to get our tests back in as little time as possible, we want our students to be in front of their teacher with instruction, so we are going to be getting trained on how to do some testing here on site.”

The masking requirement for Stevens Point School District will be reconsidered for the month of October.

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