Green Bay commits to in-person learning
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay school board took its commitment to return to full, in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year one step further, with an official vote at its Monday, May 10, meeting.
“I’ve had people tell me ‘We close out this year, we want to come back, but we think you might not even be planning to start five days next year,” Trustee Andrew Becker said. “I’ve told everyone who asked me that I have heard nothing to the contrary about it, but I think it needs to be made official. Because I don’t know, in the absence of, an official change if anything officially changes.”
Currently, students are attending in-person learning four days a week with Wednesdays remaining virtual, a plan the district wants to continue until the end of this school year.
Board President Eric Vanden Heuvel said the commitment has already been made by both the district and the board, but he understands the desire to make things official.
“We’ve approved a calendar for the year, and it lists the dates,” Vanden Heuvel said. “I understand your desire to try and make this as clear as possible. (The) motion essentially just reiterates what we’ve said, what the calendar says. To Andrew’s point, it sort of officially endorses the fact that we are planning five-days-a-week, in-person (learning) for the students who want it.”
Board members noted the plan could be revisited if the community sees another COVID-19 outbreak.
“(This) doesn’t preclude us from another variant, a community spike, things get to an unsafe level and then us having to have another conversation,” Vanden Heuvel said. “This doesn’t prevent that from happening.”
Trustees again confirmed the district will offer a virtual option next year.
Students in pre-K through fifth grade can enroll in the district’s new, fully virtual program beginning next year.
Secondary students will have a virtual learning option through the John Dewey Academy of Learning for the 2021-22 school year.
The district plans to offer a fully virtual option for all grade levels by the 2022-23 school year.
The district’s work toward developing a three-year strategic equity, diversity and inclusion plan is making progress.
Katie Sulzer, the district’s director of pupil services and equity coordinator, told the board the plan is moving forward.
A survey geared toward staff, parents and students in grades 6-12 wrapped up late last month.
Sulzer said those results will be used to guide the work of a task force.
“We are meeting as a task force coming up here in the next few weeks, workshops we are doing, to really look at our data and potential gaps in our data,” she said. “And then looking at steps moving forward of breaking down our task force into subcommittees to really analyze where we want to go.”
The timeline has the district implementing the plan in fall 2022.
Sulzer said she will provide the board with updates throughout the process.
Trustees unanimously agreed to join a multi-district lawsuit against JUUL, Labs, Inc., a maker of vaping devices, in an effort to address problems associated with vaping and children.
“Approximately 14 percent of high school and middle school students in Brown County and the Green Bay Area Public School District self-reported having used vaping products in the last 30 days, according to the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted in the 2018-19 school year,” said Lori Blakeslee, director of communications and public relations. “Recognizing that vaping is a health risk for young adults, this litigation provides an opportunity for the district to receive financial resources to deter students from vaping, and to prevent students from vaping through ongoing education efforts.”
San Diego-based law firm Frantz Law Group filed the suit.
Green Bay is joined by several other Wisconsin districts including Ashland, Milwaukee, Verona and Barron.
Melissa Thiel Collar, the district’s legal counsel, clarified the agreement with Frantz Law Group is a straight contingency fee agreement.
“There is no fee to enter the litigation and there is no fee or cost of ongoing litigation,” Thiel Collar said. “If there is no recovery, then the district pays nothing.”