01STOCK_MILTON_SCHOOLS02

MILTON

After a recent period of virtual learning at a Milton School District elementary school, an effort to change the Milton School District’s Milton Forward plan, which outlines the district’s COVID-19 quarantine and mask protocols, failed during a school board meeting Monday night.

One parent at the school board meeting described her frustration with the short-notice announcement of Consolidated Elementary School going into all-virtual learning from Nov. 5 to 18.

“When the administration put forward the Milton Forward plan, it was never conveyed that the administration could just go in and close down the school,” Heather Miller said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “When I spoke to the superintendent, (he said) we as parents are supposed to automatically assume that anytime in the past 18 months, school can get closed down.”

The district decided to go virtual at Consolidated after positive COVID-19 cases in multiple grade levels. Superintendent Rich Dahman said. He added there were a significant number of close contacts between the positive cases that comprised more than 50% of the student body.

In his report to the board about the district’s recent COVID-19 data, Dahman said that as of Thursday, Nov. 18, there were 26 active COVID-19 cases among students, 48 students quarantining after in-school exposure and 46 quarantining after out-of-school exposure. There were also four active staff cases and four staff members quarantining after exposures.

Dahman said about 63% of residents in the Milton School District are fully vaccinated and about 54% of 12- to 18-year-olds in the district are fully vaccinated. The high school recently hosted a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for 5- to 11-year-olds to receive their first dose of a vaccine.

“About 22% of our 5- to 11-year-olds have received their first dose,” Dahman said.

The superintendent did not recommend changing COVID-19 protocols Monday night but said it could be considered at the next board meeting Dec. 13. Dahman said the district wants to see if more students in the 5-to-11 age range get vaccinated and if case rates go down as a result.

After Dahman’s update, board member Leslie Hubert moved to alter the Milton Forward plan to end quarantine procedures and to make masking at Milton Middle and Milton High schools optional starting Monday, Nov. 29. Hubert’s proposal also would have made masking optional at district elementary schools starting Jan. 3, 2022.

Dave Holterman said he agreed with parts of Hubert’s proposal but was concerned about the younger age group and its access to the vaccines. Holterman, who said his young son was recently vaccinated, had issues trying to find a vaccination site.

Board member Shelly Crull-Hanke was concerned that upcoming holiday breaks could lead to increases in COVID-19 cases and said she would rather err on the side of safety. Board member Jennifer Johns also had a major issue with eliminating the quarantine protocols.

“This virus is contagious, we’ve seen it’s extremely contagious,” Johns said. “So eliminating quarantine altogether, regardless of vaccination status, is not something that I will be supportive of at all.”

Board member Rick Mullen also confirmed with Dahman that the quarantine procedures are currently mandated by Rock County, meaning Hubert’s motion would violate county protocols.

Board member Joe Martin offered an amendment to the motion to keep the quarantine protocols in place.

The board voted on the amended motion, which failed 4-2. Hubert and Martin voted yes. The board then voted on the original motion, which also failed 5-1. Hubert was the only yes.

School board President Mike Hoffman was not at Monday’s meeting.

Recommended for you