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Green Bay schools to host listening session regarding masks

Green Bay Area Public Schools
Posted at 2:22 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-25 18:07:53-04

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) —

For students attending Green Bay Area Public Schools, summer break will soon come to an end as schools are expected to open for the school year come September 1st.

Ahead of the return to the classroom, the Board of Education has announced they will be holding a virtual listening session on Sunday, July 25 in regards to the CDC guidance for return to school.

Those CDC guidelines suggest that masks should be worn indoors for everyone ages two and older who are not fully vaccinated.

Green Bay Area Public Schools

As many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time, the CDC emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies to protect people who are not fully vaccinated, including students, teachers, staff, and other members of their households.

Green Bay Area Public Schools

Click here to read the full CDC guidelines for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools. Those guidelines were recently updated just this month.

The virtual meeting will be streamed on Sunday beginning at 5:00 p.m. You will be able to click here that day to be redirected to the session.

The president of the school district’s Board of Education shares a bit about what the community can expect on Sunday.

Watch what Eric Vanden Heuvel has to say below:

“We have a special board meeting on Monday to decide on how we want to handle masks as a school district beginning in the fall and we felt as it was really important to give the opportunity, give the community an opportunity to provide us with their feedback. So, that’s what we’ll be doing Sunday night ahead of Monday’s board meeting,” said Eric Vanden Heuvel, Green Bay Area Public School District Board of Education President.

Learn more about how the listening session will play out on Sunday:

Vanden Heuvel explains that the district has a special board meeting on Monday to vote on the issue, but by state statute, they aren’t able to allow public comments. As a result in order to ensure they did receive the public’s input, they decided to host this listening session on Sunday ahead of that Monday meeting.

Learn more:

“So Monday is our special board meetings. Our special board meetings by policies don’t have open forum or public comment, which is why we are doing it in a special meeting on Sunday. So, Sunday’s agenda will strictly be for us to listen to the community. We are restricted from commenting on those, so it won’t be a dialogue, it will just be an opportunity to gather that feedback. And then Monday we will be meeting in-person and again the sole agenda item will be to vote on a motion to give the administration direction on how we should handle masks coming in the fall,” Vanden Heuvel said.

Parents and members of the community are welcomed on Sunday to share their input with the School Board.

Those interested in calling in on Sunday MUST register ahead of time using a public participation form.

Green Bay Area Public Schools

You can click here to access and fill out the form.

Forms will be accepted until 4:00 p.m. CT on Friday, July 23rd.

For those who miss the Friday deadline or wish to provide comments but do not wish to call, they can email school board members with their input at boardofeducation@gbaps.org.

People who do submit the public participation form will be provided three minutes to speak. Calls will be made in the order the forms are provided.

“Basing kind of on past experience, I think it will be a long night. I don’t know how many people to expect,” Vanden Heuvel said.

The district says the meeting will be live-streamed and recorded. It also says to be mindful if you are expecting a call, as those calls will be coming from an out-of-state phone number since those meetings will be on zoom.

“Giving each individual who registers three minutes to be able to provide their ideas and their feedback on the issue that we will then be voting on Monday night,” Vanden Heuvel said.

Green Bay Area Public Schools

He also shares that in June right before summer school began, the district had a similar special board meeting where they discussed the following:

“There was a motion to make masks optional for all students. That motion did not pass. A modified motion allowed masks optional for high school students and simply that had to, I think the board was looking at vaccine availability. So high school students and teachers were not required to wear masks. They also made masks optional for all students outside, still requiring staff and students to wear masks at the elementary and middle school level simply because the vaccine is only available for students 12 and older. So they felt they wanted masks still required. Don’t know how things will play out, knowing that we just had that conversation about a month ago, information changes rapidly, so we’ll see where the board is at this time,” Vanden Heuvel said.

Green Bay Area Public Schools out for the summer

When asked if this special board meeting and listening session was prompted as a result of increasing COVID-19 cases, Vanden Heuvel said this wasn’t the case.

He said they had been receiving a lot of questions about the return of the school year. Their next regular board meeting isn’t until August 9th and Vanden Huevel said they felt that was too far out to make a decision. Knowing that other area school districts had already made a decision, they wanted to host something sooner.

Green Bay Area Public Schools out for the summer

“We moved it up as quickly as we could so that we can weigh in on the issue, announce to the district and to families what we plan to do in the fall. But I think it’s also important to point out that this situation changes rapidly and it has really since last March. So to think that we’re going to make a decision in July and that’s the end-all, be-all, that’s probably not realistic,” Vanden Huevel said. “But based on what we know today we’ll make that decision here on July 26th and then we’ll continue to monitor things and obviously the district has had to shift and modify their plans throughout the pandemic and so this will just be our best decision in this moment in time,” Vanden Heuvel said.

Green Bay Area Public Schools

Watch below as Vanden Heuvel shares one final thought regarding the school district’s navigation of things since the start of the pandemic: