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SHEBOYGAN — The Sheboygan Area School District decided at Tuesday night's board meeting that virtual learning will continue for two additional weeks through Nov. 13.

The original return to in-person learning was slated for Monday, Nov. 2. Given the county and district's continued growth in overall cases, active cases and positivity rate, the board decided an additional incubation period of 14 days is necessary.

This plan will have students returning on Monday, Nov. 16. The board will reassess data at the Tuesday, Nov. 10, board meeting to determine if students and staff can return based on the new timeline.

In the meeting, superintendent Seth Harvatine and other members of the board expressed their frustration with the lack of guidance from the Sheboygan County Division of Public Health.

"Right now, we do not have any recommendations from county health," Harvatine said. "We do have ongoing conversation weekly or more, but there's a lot of frustration in terms of the lack of clarity on how they can help us to set guidance from a health standpoint so we can make guidance from an education standpoint, which is our role. This surely isn't our area of expertise, but we've learned a lot."

Harvatine said the district has followed closely the school re-opening plans of Minnesota, where state-wide parameters have been spelled out instead of allowing each district to decide for itself. Additionally, Harvatine said he's relied on resources from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 

"We will continue to look at these metrics of the burden rate and the positivity rate as we continue to monitor our staff and student quarantine data," Harvatine said. "If the county health decides to come out with new recommendations, we will factor that in."

In terms of why Sheboygan Area School District is one of the few county schools in the all-virtual learning model, Harvatine pointed to the fact that SASD accounts for about 60% of the students in the county but has seen a 70-75% of cases where nurses were able to pull by zip code.

The USDA free meals have been extended through June 2021, so pickup meals will continue to be provided at the 12 existing locations.

The board also discussed the need to look into new ways to engage the district's students both in and outside of learning times as virtual learning continues.

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