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La Crosse Schools seek waiver for requirements, face uncertain fall semester

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It was an empty public hearing for the La Crosse School Board meeting Monday night.

The hearing was held to review the School District Crosse’s waiver request for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to waive required instructional hours for this school year because of COVID-19.

La Crosse Schools will also request a waiver for the civics exam requirement as a condition of receiving a high school diploma for the 2019-2020 school year.

With no public comment, the waiver will be voted on by the La Crosse School Board on Monday.

Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers closed schools for the rest of this academic year. Outgoing La Crosse School District Superintendent Randy Nelson said that closure runs through June 30, impacting summer school programs.

“We can continue to offer school and support and learning as we currently are, but we are not going to be able to run summer school courses, especially some of the enrichment and face-to-face courses at least through June 30,” Nelson said.

There is also the uncertainty of whether year-round schools can start in mid-July as normally scheduled. Nelson noted even the fall semester could be impacted.

“What if we open school and still have to adhere to some of the social distancing policies?” Nelson asked. “I think no matter how far along we are with opening things back up again, there may be some students that we will not see in the fall, and I think we have to be prepared to provide to them perhaps a continuation of what we are currently doing.” 

Nelson added they are still looking at how to honor the graduation class of 2020 in a pandemic.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.