West De Pere residents mixed on return to school
By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – At the West De Pere school board meeting July 15 several residents spoke regarding an in-person opening to start the 2020-21 school year.
“I’m a concerned parent with two children in the West De Pere school district,” said Elizabeth Kelnhofer. “I strongly discourage the district from implementing the recommendations put forth by the Wisconsin DPI relating to the re-opening of schools, specifically with the wearing of masks, forced social distancing, limited social activities, eating in the classrooms and over-cleaning with harmful chemicals. I believe these recommendations if implemented, would cause more harm and stress to our students and staff than any potential threat to a virus. There is little evidence to support the effectiveness of face masks in reducing the risk of infection. What it will do is prevent students and staff from sharing smiles, expressions and emotions. There isn’t enough data to support the benefit of imposing these drastic measures would outweigh the risk of potential long-lasting emotional damage such as isolation, loneliness, anxiety and depression.”
Kelnhofer also discussed her feelings on over-cleaning and sanitizing.
“While I understand the importance of good cleaning, it should be noted most of these products used are highly toxic, whether it be from breathing or coming into contact with residue on surfaces,” she said. “It’s also well-documented the excessive use of hand sanitizer is also harmful. Statistics show the rate of infection of school-aged kids (from COVID-19) is incredibly low. There was also a recent finding that said asymptomatic carriers don’t appear to transmit the virus. With all the information available, it seems the restrictive recommendations from the DPI are unnecessary and harmful to our kids. Solving one problem by creating many other problems is not the solution.”
Another De Pere resident, Eva Gegare, spoke in favor of returning to a normal school setting.
“I have a daughter going into the third grade,” she said. “We won’t be learning from a tablet. Our options are normal, in-person, or we will use another option. I want everybody to be heard. I can’t say anything additional, but I’m a child care provider, and I’ll say the schools are needed. I’m a mandated reporter (of abuse), and I’m making reports for the first time in 20 years of doing this. You’re important, you’re missed and you’re needed. I want normal, and our kids need normal.”
Other residents in the audience said they respected a family’s choice to learn virtually if that was best for them, but an in-person option should also be available for everyone.
Other residents also said they hoped the district would not mandate the wearing of masks.
Tim Clark spoke in favor of following science.
“I wasn’t planning on speaking, but I hope you will make the best decisions for the students, staff and community of West De Pere,” he said. “I would hope we’d follow the best science and medicine we currently understand.”