Facemasks remain optional for students but policy is fluid

By Michael S. Hoey


Delavan-Darien School District staff were again required to wear facemasks while working in district buildings beginning last week. Administrator Jill Sorbie reported to the school board at the Sept. 13 meeting the policy had begun that day.

The district started the school year with masks optional for all students and staff. Masks are still optional for students.

Sorbie said the change was made in response to having nine staff members missing school time due to COVID-19 with seven of those nine being fully vaccinated. Sorbie said the vaccine does not seem to be holding up to the delta variant.

In addition to requiring staff to wear masks, Sorbie said anyone attending indoor events at the schools – including students – will be required to do so.

Sorbie said the decision to bring back mask requirements was difficult because administration sincerely wants to give families options.

“We want to honor families’ choices,” she said.

Sorbie said attending school is a requirement and families will continue to have the choice about wearing masks. But attending extra-curricular activities is not required so that made requiring masks during those events a bit easier to take. Participants in athletic events will not be required to wear masks.

Sorbie said she’s aware there’s a delicate balance between keeping students and staff safe and honoring family choice and that as the district moves closer to possibly reinstituting student mask mandates, if necessary, she won’t be well-liked by some in the community. Though she didn’t say names or give a number as to how many were in the same boat, Sorbie did say other area districts are making similar policy changes.

The current policy is fluid, she said. If numbers improve, it could be changed as she takes things day-by-day. She said students could, if numbers go the other way, be required to wear masks in the future. Sorbie said some classes have already gone virtual as the virus has spread.

“We do have spread,” Sorbie said. “We don’t want to have to close an entire school for two weeks. We are trying to keep the students safe and healthy.”

Homecoming at UW-W

Due to construction delays at DDSD’s Borg Field, this year’s homecoming football game against Burlington will be played at Perkins Stadium on the UW-Whitewater campus on Oct. 1.

The homecoming parade will begin at 4 p.m. in downtown Delavan on Friday.

Delavan-Darien’s homecoming dance will be on Saturday, Oct. 2.

Early exit denied

Phoenix Middle School counselor Kayla Crane, who was recently hired to work at the middle school, submitted her letter of resignation on Sept. 6.

Crane said she appreciated the opportunity to serve as a counselor at Phoenix and apologized about not being able to fulfill her contract. She said she was resigning due to family concerns and asked to be released from her contract as soon as possible.

Sorbie said the contract Crane signed requires staff to work for 60 days upon resignation during a school year and there is a fine Crane is aware of and willing to pay. Sorbie said Crane wanted to be released from her contract earlier than 60 days because as a counselor she did not think it was fair to form relationships with students only to leave a short time later.

According to Sorbie, the board had to decide if Crane should be required to work for 60 days or if she should be released from her contract immediately. If she continued working, Sorbie said it would be in other roles than as a counselor.

Some discussion was had about making Crane finish her contract in part because of the precedent it would set if she wasn’t required to do so. Others were concerned she would call in sick if forced to finish her contract while others expressed concerns that her quality of work might not remain up to par.

The board unanimously approved releasing Crane from her contract at the end of October, which will be after 45 days of work.

Fundraising discussed

While making it abundantly clear that she has nothing at all against the Booster Club – and thinks it does a great job – board member Doreen Grams asked for clarification about the money student athletes or teams raise during fundraisers. Grams said she was curious as to why that money is held in Booster Club accounts and not school district accounts.

The topic came up during a discussion about fundraisers for the current school year.

Some discussion was had about who actually does the work of the fundraising – the Booster Club or the student-athletes – and if the funds raised should be held by the Booster Club.

Business Administrator Anthony Klein said the Booster Club is doing a service to the district by administering the funds and ordering things the funds pay for. He said district staff would have to do it if the Booster Club did not.

Board member Kevin Hermann said having a Booster Club costs the district nothing and is simply some dedicated parents who want to help out. Dawn Salas said she did not believe Grams was suggesting the Booster Club should be eliminated but had questions about why they held the money.

Athletic Director Guy Otte said the district receives a report from the Booster Club every month and it’s audited every year. Several people commented on the many tings the Booster Club does for the district.

“The Booster Club does a lot for us,” Klein said.

The two main items teams are raising money for this year were a new batting cage and some fencing repairs at Veteran’s Park where the baseball team plays and the replacement of some of the portable outfield fencing at West Park where the softball team plays. Otte said that even though both parks are municipal parks and not district facilities, the baseball and softball programs want to chip in toward the needed upgrades.



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