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Jefferson School Board Votes To Not Vote On New Mask Guidance...Yet

Another tense night took place at last night's Jefferson School Board meeting.


The crowd was split about 50/50 between masked and unmasked individuals and the meeting got off to a very calm start, despite some quiet laughter when one person spoke. The calmness changed when the anti-mask mandate crowd applauded a speaker and the board told them applause was not allowed so they could get through public comment as fast as possible.


“I will remind you every time if I have to”, Terri Wengman said.


The half of the crowd in support of optional masks did not appreciate that answer, and there were some angry mumbles among the crowd. One speaker said that if the board votes for a mask mandate, they are voting against everything they believe in. One speaker went off on the board, saying that them needing computers on stage is disrespectful and they need to be taken away. The audience clapped, but the board said they couldn’t hear her. The woman said “well, everyone else heard me”. The rest of the public comment remained relatively calm, except for when a lawyer spoke and said “if you mandate masks, this will not be the last time you see me”. The pro-optional mask crowd roared.


After an hour and a half of public comment that saw the board start allowing whoever wanted to speak do so without signing up until after they had spoken, the board took a five minute recess.


After that, there was a presentation on summer schools, with one of the important numbers being 73 students from outside of Jefferson having attended summer school. There were six new courses that were added including French, Stained Glass and more.


The board also heard the 2022-2023 curriculum plan. A life sciences course for juniors and seniors, with a single semester, ½ credit zoology course was proposed. The class would discuss everything from structure and development, and invertebrates, to vertebrates. There are plans for quizzes and tests, and the teacher said there would be hopes to have zoos and vets work with the students.


There was also a proposal to split advanced art classes in half into 2D and 3D classes. This is in order to give students more experience in advanced mediums. The Metals courses would be dropped as a result.


Another class was proposed for FSE, or Formula Student, Super Mileage and Electrathon. There would be prerequisites of small engines and or metals processing. The max class size would be 20 for safety purposes. Formula Student is a program for students interested in motorsports. The go kart course at Road America would be used for a “tournament” to see the adjustments and work on their cars and other engineering items. There would not be more than one kart on track at a time. There is already a car that has been purchased. The car would be a miniature version of a formula race car but with a lawn mower engine. There is also a proposal to implement ChallengeUSA from Watertown High School. Super Mileage is more about fuel economy as well as the kart’s center of gravity and less about lap time, and would draw on the small engines course. This would not be run at Road America. There are collegiate programs in this field. Electrathon is nearly identical to ChallengeUSA but with an electric vehicle. This is intended to bring in concepts of engineering, welding, physics, math and an understanding of electric vehicles. There is no set costs, but it can be anywhere from $1000-$8000. The teacher wasn’t looking for money but rather approval for costs. Students would be able to fundraise and get sponsors. This was a first reading and no vote was planned.


After that, Dr Charles Urness presented a proposed updated protocol plan which includes some proposed options. Urness made it very clear he did not want SDOJ to go virtual. Urness said the primary decision should revolve around student and staff numbers. Every Friday at 12 PM, the district is recommended to evaluate its situation and go from there. The data for the district is the most imperative. Urness finished his presentation and then the board began discussion. The board had no questions. There is a possibility that if a school reaches 1% positive, that there would be a 7 day mask mandate. Urness said Jefferson’s plan is very similar to other districts. If it reaches the 3% mark, the county health department will step in. This was more supplemental guidance on an already approved plan, so if the board didn’t change anything, those supplemental measures are in place. The updates are moreso to give the mitigation measures clarity. It was discussed if any action wanted to be taken. A motion was made to put this off, as the board feared the numbers were too low, and after it was seconded, it was asked if their could be a special session to present the public with the findings. It would not be a closed session item, but it could be a public meeting, according to Urness. The board then voted, it passed and was postponed until another meeting.


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