Green Bay sticks with current quarantine practices
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay School Board stuck with its current quarantine and isolation practices at its Sept. 13 meeting.
A motion to change the lengths some are kept at home failed in a 1-6 vote.
“It is obviously a balancing act for quarantine with safety vs. length of loss of education,” Trustee Andrew Becker said. “I’ve heard from a lot of people, from camps, who agree on almost nothing, and one thing that is bringing people together is how extreme the household 20-day quarantine is.”
According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, a total of 48 staff and 1,333 students were out of school as of Monday, Sept. 20 – 19 staff were in isolation (which means they’ve tested positive for COVID-19) and 29 were in quarantine; 75 students were in isolation and 1,258 in quarantine.
“There is some increase (in quarantines) due to proximity,” Superintendent Steve Murley said. “Given our student population and size of our buildings, we are not able to consistently enforce the 3-feet minimum.”
Murley said the current quarantine and isolation procedures, which vary depending on vaccination status, were constructed with the help of experts.
“We have not made these decisions independently,” he said. “We have sought external assistance that comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the federal level, the Department of Public Health at the state level, from Brown County Public Health, and importantly we work with local health care providers.”
Dr. Sherri Hoyman, a Bellin pediatrician and member of Bellin’s incident command team, said she commends the district for its masking recommendations.
“That is the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Practice, the CDC – that children in K-12 be masked regardless of their vaccination status given the prevalence of COVID-19 in our area, especially the delta variant,” Hoyman said.
In terms of quarantine, she said with an unvaccinated student the 20-day recommendation is the safest course of action.
“If we send them back too early, there is a chance they could be contagious to other people and then you are going to spread and have more students out,” she said. “COVID doesn’t care who it infects. It wants everybody it can infect.”
Becker made a motion to shorten the current quarantine lengths – “seven days with a negative test as an option for the 10-day quarantines and 14 with a negative test as an option for the 20-day situations.”
The motion originally went without a second, which disappointed Becker.
“This has not happened in the 30 years that I’ve even followed (this board), that there hasn’t even been a second,” Becker said. “Although there are a lot of things that I would second and vote ‘no’ on, I would never disrespect a fellow board member by not seconding for a purpose of a vote.”
Board Member Laura Laitinen-Warren eventually seconded the motion for the purpose of discussion.
“I thought we had discussed quite a bit before the motion which is why I didn’t second it,” Laitinen-Warren said. “I have no problem in being a second in terms of there being discussion further if it’s the pleasure of the board.”
The motion ultimately failed.
Equity, diversity and inclusion update
The district’s work toward developing a three-year strategic equity, diversity and inclusion plan continues to make progress.
“This is something that has been a focus of the district for years, before my arrival, so we are on a continuous journey,” Murley said. “I think that our team has been very responsible of the work we are doing, the professional development we are providing for staff and the focus that we have on our kids.”
Claudia Henrickson, Executive Director of Student Services, updated the board on the initiative’s progress, which included a broad look at the results of a survey launched last spring geared toward staff, parents and students in grades 6-12.
Henrickson said the results are separated into three main buckets – academic outcomes, program access and behavior outcomes.
“When we are looking at this, we are looking at our mission – to educate all students to be college, career and community ready to succeed in our diverse world,” she said. “When we look at our data, we have to ask ourselves if we are closing opportunity gaps for all of our students. We may be, but are we doing it at the rate that we want to be doing it at.”
Henrickson said the results of the survey weren’t surprising.
“Many of us were not surprised at some of the results, because we’ve had some of these issues for a number of years,” she said.
Henrickson said the results are being used to guide the work of the task force – made up of more than 40 parents, students, teachers, community members, board members, administrators and support staff – which she said met Sept. 15.
She said the district is on target to continue the work, with implementation planned for fall 2022.
“The leadership plan is going to finalize a plan in the very near future and then the advisory committee is going to be established to monitor that implementation of that plan,” she said.
Henrickson stressed this is not Critical Race Theory.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the elephant in the room,” she said. “Is this undercover Critical Race Theory? No. I strongly, strongly, strongly believe this is not Critical Race Theory in any way, shape or form, covertly or anything… We want to close gaps… And we have searched and searched for that equity since the ‘70’s as we’ve gotten more and more diverse. We continue to search for different ways to be more equitable. We are not expecting we are changing people’s hearts and minds. We are expecting we are changing educational practices, and if by chance we change some hearts and minds, then more power to it.”
Henrickson said the team will continue to provide the board with updates.