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Green Bay schools to suspend non-mandated tests, give strained teachers more time out of classroom

Posted at 11:21 PM, Jan 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 00:57:16-05

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — Since the start of the new semester this January, at least five schools in the Green Bay district have temporarily closed and moved to virtual learning due to staffing issues.

Now Angel Saavedra says he's waiting until the same happens to his kids at Lombardi Middle School.

"We're kind of waiting for the moment when our school gets shut down," he said. "That's tricky for parents like me, like others. We're trying to figure out when will this happen?"

But at a Monday night school board meeting, the district took steps to give teachers extra pandemic support.

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Starting Feb. 1, exempt or salaried teachers will have flexibility to be out of the building for 30 minutes outside of scheduled duties.

Starting Feb. 1, exempt or salaried teachers will have flexibility to be out of the building for 30 minutes outside of scheduled duties.

"They're suffering too, our faculty and staff," Saavedra said. "Our teachers are getting sick."

Board members also passed a motion to suspend all non-mandated assessments for the rest of the school year. Routine coursework-related tests will still take place.

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Board members also passed a motion to suspend all non-mandated assessments for the rest of the school year.

Staffing problems have already impacted Rachel Hernandez and her children at Chappell Elementary.

"That was the first primary school in Green Bay that needed to close temporarily due to critical staffing shortages based on Covid impact," she said.

The district also decided to mandate the Covid vaccine for all Head Start employees or risk losing federal funding.

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In November, the Biden Administration ordered the Head Start program to require staff vaccination and universal masking.

"We're gonna continue to be in a period of rapid change," Hernandez said. We don't know what things are gonna look like two months from now, what things are gonna look like as the school year wraps up."

With that uncertainty, many parents want the rest of the school year to go smoothly for their children and their teachers.

"They're professionals and their work is important," Saavedra said. "And our children know that."

In November, the Biden Administration ordered the Head Start program to require staff vaccination and universal masking. But in 24 states, not including Wisconsin, that order was ruled unlawful by a Louisiana federal judge.

The program is for kids aged 3 to 5 from low-income families.