By Melissa Thorud
SPRING VALLEY – The Spring Valley School Board voted to appoint Brian Wang to fill the school board vacancy at a special meeting held on Monday, Dec. 20. After voting on filling the spot on the school board, the board briefly discussed adjusting some of its COVID policies.
The vacancy on the Spring Valley School Board opened when President Cristy Peavey resigned in order to take a job with the school district. This resulted in April Robelia stepping into the president position, leaving an empty spot on the board.
A committee met Dec. 15 to narrow down the candidates, which went to the full board on Dec. 20.
“The board selected a committee that nominated a finalist for the full board to select,” said Superintendent John Groh.
Wang will fill the vacancy for the remaining four-month term until Spring elections.
“We had four candidates apply for the position,” Groh said. “The general feeling of the board was that Brian would fit the spot after previously serving on the board for a prior 15 years. It would be easy for him to fill in and hit the ground running and he has now been sworn in and is a member through April of 2022.”
The vote was 5 to 1 in favor of Wang and he will begin filling the vacancy effective immediately.
The school board also discussed current concerns with the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the district.
“The decision came about during the last two and half to three weeks before break and our numbers had increased so dramatically, and I had many elementary school teachers reach out to me and the administrator with concerns about the difficulty in catching up,” Groh said.
The board decided to amend the current school calendar to make days available for teachers and staff to prepare for simultaneous instruction, built for teaching both in-person and for children learning from home.
“We needed an adjustment so we looked at days that would have the most minimal impact on families so we added an extra day onto winter break and a Friday in February and this gives teachers a little more of an advantage to plan,” said Groh.
The amended days are Jan. 3, 2022 and Feb. 4, 2022. No school will be held these days, but extracurricular activities will remain scheduled for those days. Having these extra days off will allow for planning for ”dual platform” instruction.
The number of positive COVID cases in the district has increased since Thanksgiving. According to the Spring Valley School District website, there were nine active cases in the district before students went on winter break.
After the board decided to take some precautions as the Omicron variant started to spread, Groh believes they helped curb more drastic numbers with these precautions. They required masking at large events for visitors and required testing for students before returning back to school in outbreak situations and also allowed for at-home learning instruction.
The board also approved Peavy as the new district administrative assistant.
“We had a really strong candidate pool for this position, and her background with the school board plus her professional work experience were awesome,” Groh said.