Ellsworth School Board talks reopening plan

Posted 8/18/21

ELLSWORTH – The Ellsworth School Board hosted a public hearing on Monday, Aug. 9 in order to receive commentary and feedback from the community on the Ellsworth Community School District …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Ellsworth School Board talks reopening plan


ELLSWORTH – The Ellsworth School Board hosted a public hearing on Monday, Aug. 9 in order to receive commentary and feedback from the community on the Ellsworth Community School District Reopening Plan.

The 2021-22 School District Reopening Plan has yet to go into effect, as the school board will vote on it during a special session on Monday, Aug. 16.

Currently, the Ellsworth School Board has indicated it will make masks optional for students, staff, and visitors within all academic buildings, while masks will be mandated on school buses based off of current CDC requirements concerning public transportation. As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are currently increasing across the state of Wisconsin, the Ellsworth School Board intends to adapt their COVID-19 rules and regulations as recommendations and mandates change from the CDC and Pierce County.

ECSD intends to make vaccination opportunities available once children ages 11 and younger are eligible for the vaccine. Currently, 77 percent of ECSD employees have been vaccinated. No numbers were available on how many students 12 and older have been vaccinated in the school district.

As for social distancing in buildings, the plan is to maximize social distancing for students in all classrooms while still having classrooms filled to their maximum capacity for all grades. High school and middle school students will have assigned seating in the cafeteria with cohorts, while elementary school students will return to normal breakfast and lunch seating in the cafeteria.

ECSD will help continue with contact tracing during the 2021-22 school year. Contact tracing will be done on individuals who have been within three feet of a positive COVID-19 case for 15 or more minutes. Families who have children exposed to COVID-19 through school will be notified and are to keep their students at home to quarantine if they test positive for COVID-19.

For students who will have to isolate and for families who choose distance learning, the district plans to partner with Calvert Education.

Employee handbook

The school board voted on proposed changes for the 2021-22 employee handbook, most of which are related to COVID-19 rules, regulations and language related to staff operations. The new changes to the handbook include the hourly rate of compensation for both planning and presentation time that has changed for staff in-service presentations and an updated rate of pay for department chairs, building coordinators and building leadership positions.

Public comment

Public comment time featured a couple of people who spoke against vaccines and their efficacy. They did not name nor provide sources for their opinions.

Many also spoke against Pierce County Public Health Director AZ Snyder, expressing the opinion that her position should be elected, not hired; however, public health director positions are not elected positions in the State of Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, state statute 251.05 outlines qualifications for local health officers. Pierce County Public Health has been qualified by the state as a Level 3 health department, which is the highest classification of health departments inWisconsin. The classification requires any applicant for a public health leadership position to have a master’s degree in public health, or a bachelor's degree and 16 graduate semester credits towards a master's degree in public health, or a license to practice medicine and surgery.

Snyder received a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from the University of Notre Dame and has a Master of Science in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has more than a decade of experience in public health, both internationally and domestically, including experience working on infectious diseases. She has worked in Uganda, Lesotho, South Africa and Myanmar on maternal and child health projects.

New hires

The school board announced 15 new hires for the district: Ellsworth Elementary: Kjrsten Faaren, speech therapist assistant; Alexis Muller, special education teaching assistant and long-term sub; Carla Nelson, elementary school custodian; Heather Petersen, case manager; Jessica Puhrmann, health aide; and Ricardo Rodriquez Colon, custodian.

Ellsworth Middle School: Lauren Burks, occupational therapist. Ellsworth High School: Kasey Bass, a tech ed intern; Tanner Christopherson, business education teacher; Elizabeth Kidd, special education teaching assistant; Charysse Minder, special education teaching assistant; and JulieWinegar, tech ed teacher.

District-wide: Justin Frosch, custodian; Abbie Green, English learner coordinator; and Maria Martino, physical therapist.

Resignations and retirements

A total of five employees announced their resignations or retirements prior to Monday night’s meeting.

Resignations: Tracie Esterby, elementary school health assistant; Loralee Kiefer, Panther Kids Club Wrap Around Program; Gary Skogsbergh, high school tech ed teacher; and Nikole Westerberg, elementary school special education teaching assistant.

The one retiree was Susan Pollak, an EMS special education teaching assistant.


Three employees will transfer from their current roles into new ones during the month of August: •Brieanna Davis, from district-wide sub teacher .60 FTE to district-wide sub teacher 1.0 FTE

•Buena Farrell, from middle school library teaching assistant/website and Facebook coordinator to middle school library teaching assistant/ website and Facebook coordinator/academic and career planning coordinator •Amber Graetz, from part-time with the PKC Wrap Program to full-time.

Extra/co-curricular roles A total of 10 employees have taken on new extra/co-curricular roles.

•Kasey Bass: Third assistant football coach

•Hannah Bystrom: C-Team volleyball coach

•Tanner Christopherson: EHS Panthers’ Den

•Nick Foley: Mentor

•MaKayla Mears: Eighth grade assistant volleyball coach

•Allison Odmark: JV volleyball coach

•Alex Pendar: Head eighth grade volleyball coach

•Jordan Petersen: Head eighth grade football coach

•Riley Schumaker: JV girls’ tennis coach

•Peter Senti: Mentor