By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – The West De Pere School District made overnight field trips more accessible to students of all types and abilities Dec. 11 when it took a new look at its district handbook.
Staff realized provisions hadn’t been in place to ensure all students, regardless of physical status, be included.
One example would be a student with a wheelchair.
“We made our language cleaner to reflect where we are in practice, in being accommodating to students and families,” said Superintendent Dennis Krueger.
The last sentence of the handbook addendum sums up the mission statement: “All students will have equal opportunity to participate while maximizing the integration of experience.”
Considerations for special accommodations such as dietary, physical, medical, social or emotional, gender, religious, etc., will be done in a “sensible and sensitive manner,” reads the statement.
“If any student desires increased privacy, every effort must be made to provide the student with reasonable accommodations,” it reads.
Trip organizers are to work with the students, school staff, and/or the student’s parents or guardian to make the appropriate arrangements, and the school should honor those requests whenever possible.
In all circumstances, the arrangements are to be made with the student’s consent, the revised policy reads.
In another travel-related matter, the board voted 4-1 to approve a request by two French teachers to lead a spring break trip to France in 2021.
Board member Tom Van De Hei cast the sole nay vote, citing safety concerns.
“It’s just not safe, not with all the stuff going on right now,” Van De Hei said. “I wouldn’t send my kids, so I can’t in good conscience vote yes.”
After discussion, the board decided to add it would reserve the right to rethink the trip closer to the date if the political climate warrants.
Revising the district policy on field trips led the district to notice other handbook policies that needed updates.
Policies on nondiscrimination and harassment were updated, with the chief alteration being the addition of several categories into the list of bases upon which staff, students, and employees must not be penalized.
Joining the already existing “disability, sex, race, national origin, ancestry, creed, pregnancy, marital or parental status, gender identity and sexual orientation” are color and homelessness, along with physical, mental, emotional or learning disability.
The district’s protocols on communicable disease in schools got a revamp, as well.
To a paragraph on excluding students or staff members from school attendance if their ability to perform is affected or if they present a health risk to others, the board added a sentence stating the school would attempt to provide home-based instruction for students during their absence.
The board also amended the district’s policy on dealing with blood or bodily fluid spills.
The revised policy now states handling and cleanup of any bodily fluid will be done by adult employees who have gone through training in bloodborne pathogens and universal precautions.