The Cambridge School District will keep its facilities closed through June 30, and finish out the year with distance learning, the School Board affirmed this week.
The School Board voted May 18 to remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year, sticking to the June 30 end date for the closure.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the extension to a statewide Safer-At-Home order on May 13.
“It was very, very clear prior to the Supreme Court decision that schools were closed and the facilities were closed,” Superintendent Bernie Nikolay said.
Now, whether Cambridge school facilities can reopen, Nikolay said, is “complicated” by differing rules in Dane and Jefferson Counties.
“We’re literally straddling Jefferson and Dane county,” said School Board president Tracy Smithback-Travis.
Cambridge High school sits in Jefferson County, while Nikolay Middle School and Cambridge Elementary School are in Dane County.
Dane County has issued its own phased public health order, effective at 8 a.m. Tuesday May 19, that will allow area businesses, schools and other public places to reopen over time based on meeting certain benchmark criteria.
Jefferson County has issued guidelines but no actual rules for public gatherings and businesses.
Nikolay asked the School Board to vote on keeping the facilities closed, to clear up some of the grey area for administrators and CAP staff, regarding facilities use.
“I think the district should carry on with what I think is most safe and keep our facilities closed until June 30,” Nikolay said.
School board vice president Jim Womble clarified that with this decision, the district couldn’t hold any sort of in-person graduation before June 30, which the district had ruled out at its last meeting.
Cambridge is set to hold a virtual graduation on June 7, and an in-person ceremony on Aug. 9.
“I don’t think there’s any way we should be having a large-scale gathering like graduation, other than what we have planned, on school property,” Nikolay said.
“I certainly wouldn’t want the school district to be caught in a place where we decide to move forward, and someone gets sick and there’s liability issues,” board member Courtney Reed Jenkins said.
“It is unfortunate. It’s hard to ignore though,” Smithback-Travis said. “We just can’t ensure that people would be safe (in) our facilities.”