School will start for Grantsburg students on September 1, and it appears that there will be little to no changes compared to how the school year ended in June. The district will continue with in-person learning five days a week, and face coverings for students, staff, and guests are optional.

The only place that face coverings will be required is on the buses per federal mandate. When the federal mandate for masking on transportation ends, the district will lift their masking mandate on bussing as well. The busses will also have seating arrangements and open windows to allow more air flow (weather permitting).

The district will continue to attempt social distancing in their daily operations as best as they can and hand sanitizers, gloves, thermometers, and face coverings will still be available in all schools. Parents/guardians, staff and students are also still expected to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms daily. If feeling ill, it is suggested to stay home to ensure the safety of everyone. The same COVID-19 close contact, quarantine and isolation protocols will still be in effect for the 2021/22 school year- the one difference being that vaccinated students and staff that are identified as close contacts will be exempt from quarantine. 

Another thing that is changing is that distance education will not be available as an educational placement option this year. It will only be used on a quarantine or isolation basis. When students are not in school, they will have access to digital or physical materials. There are still online classes available through iForward.

Field trips and gatherings can resume, COVID-19 mandates will just have to be followed at the destination sites. Guest attendance can also be resumed at events. Breakfast and lunches will be free for students in the district for the 2021-22 school year through the SSO program. There is no more meal delivery or curbside service. 

As the school year progresses, the district will continue to follow federal, state, or local mandates. This means that the district may change their mitigation strategies or any other part of their back-to-school plan throughout the year based on locals needs and everchanging COVID-19 data.

In other items

• This year, the district is also looking into participating in the federally funded, Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), voluntary COVID-19 testing program. This program would offer free diagnostic COVID-19 testing for students and staff. District superintendent Joshua Watt explained to the school board on Aug. 9, that if a parent wanted to get their child tested for COVID, they could consent for their child to receive the test at school.

He wanted it to be clear that it would not be mandatory testing, it would be a free service that would be available for parents for their children, and for staff. “There are a number of parents that would take advantage of it if they knew they wouldn’t have to take work off to bring their child to the doctors, drive to a COVID testing clinic, or whatever, we would provide that service,” Watt said, adding that he is going to look more into the program and bring it back to the board at a later date.

• The board approved the FEMA grant proposal and will be working with Jordan Buss, who specializes in writing FEMA grants. They will work with Buss to complete and submit the grant to FEMA in hopes of obtaining the FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure & Communities (BRIC) Grant. Buss had stated in a previous board meeting that the grant’s main objective is to “reduce the risk to individuals and property from future natural disasters, and by doing that, reducing the reliance on federal funding from those natural disasters.”

If the district is chosen to receive this grant, the main objective is to have a tornado shelter incorporated into one of the school buildings which could be used by not only the staff, students and district, but the surrounding public within a five-mile radius, as well.