David F. Byrne, 95, Whitewater, passed away on November 24, 2020 and joined his wife Elizabeth

David F. Byrne, 95, Whitewater, passed away on November 24, 2020 and joined his wife Elizabeth.

David was born December 11, 1924 in Pontiac, Illinois, to Ira and Vera (Rittenhouse) Byrne. He was raised 2 miles northeast of Saunemin on the family farm of four generations. He attended elementary and secondary schools at Saunemin, Illinois, graduating from Saunemin High School in 1942. David attended Illinois State Normal University from September 1942 until June, 1944, both as a civilian and in the Naval Officer Training called V-12. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 until 1946, on the destroyer escort 531, Edward H. Allen, in the Atlantic. During the World War II years David met Elizabeth Gebhardt and they were married December 16, 1944. They had three sons; David Charles (Sandra), William Edward (Bette), Paul Franklin (Kathy), thirteen grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren. In 1994 David and Beth celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, with family and friends, in Whitewater, Wisconsin. His loving wife, Elizabeth, died October 7, 1995. David attended the University Of Illinois, receiving the Bachelor of Science Degree in Vocational Agriculture and the Master of Science Degree in 1949. From 1955 to 1962, he enrolled in extension and summer courses. In 1962 he took a leave of absence and enrolled for residence in the Doctor of Education Program at the University of Illinois. He received the Doctor of Education degree in June 1964. David Byrne was a teacher and administrator in public schools for 37 years. He started the vocational Agriculture department in Altamont, Illinois in 1949 and after 5 years he became the high school principal and superintendent of the Altamont Community Unit District 10, with only 640 pupils in grades 1 thru 12. From 1958 to 1962 he was Principal of East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, Illinois, with 3100 students in 1958. For 20 years, 1965-1985, he was Superintendent of the Leyden High School District 212, with two high schools in the suburban area near Chicago O’Hare airport. During his last year at Leyden both East Leyden and West Leyden were selected for the National Presidential Award for Excellence.

Whitewater Lake, Wisconsin, was his home after retiring, and for many years he was active in the UMC and Noon Kiwanis. By the time he became 90 he was limited to his walker, pick-up truck, and a Kawasaki Mule. He enjoyed a time of greater relaxation, spending time with family and friends, hosting company at the lake house, and the Investment Club meetings. He watched TV and used the computer to monitor his stock portfolio. He spent the last few years of his life at Fairhaven Retirement Homes where he enjoyed many new friends and activities. On New Year’s Eve, 1996, Dave married Dorothy Davis Barnes, a former classmate at Saunemin High School. With Dorothy’s son, Dr. David Barnes, and her daughter, Penny Manning added to the family, Dave and Dorothy now had 15 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren.

Due to the pandemic there will be no formal services at this time.

Nitardy Funeral Home, Whitewater is assisting the family. Online condolences may be made by online at www.nitardyfuneralhome.com

Janet Marie (Cooper) Grosskreutz, 62, was reborn to eternal life on November 24, 2020 after a long battle with COPD

Janet Marie (Cooper) Grosskreutz

Janet Marie (Cooper) Grosskreutz, 62, was reborn to eternal life on November 24, 2020 after a long battle with COPD. She was born on February 1, 1958, to Walter and Elizabeth (Fisch) Cooper at Fort Atkinson Memorial Hospital. She grew up in the Lima/Cold Spring/Whitewater area and went straight from Whitewater High School to the loving arms of her husband, Brian Grosskreutz. They married at North Lima Presbyterian Church on June 14, 1975 and spent the next 44 years together.

Janet worked in a variety of professions during her life, including as a caregiver at Fairhaven and other assisted living facilities, a packer for Star Packaging, and as a retail clerk at the Gift Hutch.

Janet delighted in living life to the fullest. She didn’t let a fear of heights deter her from enjoying everything from peering over a 12-story hotel balcony to watch bears raiding a dumpster to attaining the summit of Pikes Peak. She also overcame her fear of airplanes so she could go to Florida to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in its first year, pet a dolphin at SeaWorld, and view a space shuttle on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy.

When at home, she enjoyed spending time with her husband Brian, daughter Kelly, and whatever dogs or cats they owned at the time. Janet was a huge animal lover and always owned at least one dog or cat throughout her life. She also enjoyed reading, coloring pictures in adult coloring books, making cards on her computer, sewing, and crocheting.

Janet leaves behind her daughter Kelly of Johnson Creek; in-laws Richard and Beverly Grosskreutz of Whitewater; brothers Walter Cooper, Jr. (Carol) of Grand Rapids, MN and John Cooper of Janesville; brother-in-law Steven (Patrice) Grosskreutz of Whitewater; beloved cat Dusty; and many nieces and nephews.

She is reunited with her husband Brian, daughter Kimberly, parents Walter and Elizabeth (Fisch) Cooper, sister Sylvia (Cooper) Holbach, sister-in-law Carmella (Rose) Cooper, and nephew Aaron Grosskreutz.

A private family burial will take place at Little Prairie Cemetery in Little Prairie, WI on December 5, 2020.

The family would like to thank Marquardt Home Health and Marquardt Hospice in Watertown, WI for their help and support.

“Santa & Friends” – A safe holiday drive-up experience at the Aquatic & Fitness Center – Sat., Dec. 5

(WAFC press release) The WAFC along the Friends of the WAFC group and the Whitewater Optimist Club will be hosting a drive thru Santa and Friends event on Saturday December 5th from 1 p.m.- 3 p.m.  Folks will drive through our parking lot to see festive lights/displays with Holiday characters and receive a Holiday goodie bag at the end. Participants are encouraged to bring along a nonperishable food donation. We will be donating all of the collected food items to the local food pantry.

UW-W defeats Northwestern Univ. and Univ. of Chicago to compete in Fed Challenge national semifinals

UW-Whitewater defeats Northwestern University and University of Chicago to compete in Fed Challenge national semifinals

(UW-W College of Business & Economics press release) For the second time in four years, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater College Fed Challenge team excelled in regional competition and competed among the nation’s best economics programs.

UW-Whitewater prevailed against some of the strongest teams in the Midwest district — including Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and Marquette University — in order to advance to the national semifinal round. Final rankings were announced on Nov. 20, naming the top three teams as well as three other finalists. While UW-Whitewater was not included among the winners or national finalists, the students’ dedication and performance reflect highly on the university.

The 2020 UW-Whitewater College Fed Challenge Team included presenting members Nicole Carter from Cary, Ill., who is majoring in international studies and economics, Clayton Gallmann from Oshkosh, Wis., who is majoring in economics, Cole Kinson from Elkhorn, Wis., who is majoring in economics and mathematics, Kevin Peralta from Racine, Wis., who is majoring in economics, and Johnny Pulley from Stoughton, Wis., who is majoring in economics. Tyler Grissom from Cedarburg, Wis., who is majoring in international business and German, also contributed to the team’s success as a non-presenting member by providing significant research and analysis support.

In addition, economics faculty members Professor Yamin Ahmad, Associate Professor Eylem Ersal, Assistant Professor Krastina Dzhambova, Assistant Professor Narendra Regmi, and Professor Emeritus Stuart Glosser also devoted many hours as team coaches. They helped the team prepare and refine their presentation, and ran them through Q&A drills.

Co-sponsored by the Federal Reserve and Federal Reserve Banks, the College Fed Challenge is the preeminent economics educational competition that teaches students to think critically about the U.S. economy, financial markets and monetary policy.

“The competition requires a lot of research, and students get a feel for what macroeconomists do,” said Yamin Ahmad, professor of economics. “The team suggested a particular policy decision in the presentation video, and the Federal Reserve ended up taking that action a week later. So the students could see that they were on target with their analysis, and they were really excited.”

In past years, bracketed competitions led to district winners who advanced to the national round. This year, all teams in a district competed directly against each other with video presentations. The top three teams from each district advanced to the national semifinals, which featured a virtual question-and-answer session with judges. Team performances in the Q&A resulted in one finalist for each district, as well as the national first-, second- and third-place rankings.

“The team started preparing in March, at the start of the pandemic,” said Ahmad. “They met remotely every week from March into November, and their dedication and hard work were reflected in their performance. They went up against some very strong economics teams to make it to the national semifinals.”

Beyond economic acumen, analytical skills and presentation abilities, the College Fed Challenge requires strong teamwork skills.

“The students pulled together right away, and they excelled based on their ability to work as a team,” said Ahmad.

“The primary takeaway from my first year of being the team captain is how grateful I am that I was working with dedicated teammates and faculty advisors who cared about how well the team did,” said Cole Kinson. “As the competition grew nearer, it became more and more clear that we could never have advanced as far as we did without the effort put in by every single teammate, nor without the help we received from the faculty advisors. The project was just too large-scale to do without everyone’s combined effort.”

The Warhawks’ journey to the semifinals is particularly noteworthy during a year of unusual disruption. When announcing the winners, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, commended all participants on the talent and drive required of both students and faculty advisers to compete in this event during a time of so much upheaval.

COVID-19 update: Over 200 new cases reported in Walworth County portion of the city in past two weeks; It appears only about half were UW-W related

By Lynn Binnie
Whitewater Banner volunteer staff
whitewaterbanner@gmail.com
November 24, 2020

  • It’s not possible to precisely differentiate new cases at UW-W from those in the larger community, but in a recent two week period there were 202 new positive results in the Walworth County portion of the city, and during that period UW-W “only” reported 112. Presumably some of UW-W’s cases would have been reported in Jefferson County. Out of the tests reported in the Walworth County portion of the city in the past week, an alarming 55% were positive. Mandi Kolb, a 911 dispatcher, stated at the virtual WUSD board meeting on Monday evening that she is “taking call after call related to COVID-19.”
  • With a 7-day case incidence as of November 24 of 86.3, Walworth County’s positive cases have moderated slightly, from 92.4 in the past week. The county is still very deeply into the “very high risk” category (which begins at 25) under the Jefferson County model that Whitewater Unified School District (WUSD) is no longer using as guidance. Whitewater’s case incidence, 121, is even higher than Walworth County’s, and continues to climb. Meanwhile, Jefferson County is currently reporting a 7-day case incidence as of November 14 of 85, down somewhat from last week’s 95. The statewide case incidence is reported to be 108.5. (Case incidence = daily average new cases per 100,000 people.)
  • Informed by new guidance from Walworth and Rock Counties, the WUSD board voted on November 23 to pause in-person instruction beginning Nov. 30. With rapidly rising cases in the area, the health departments reverted to Phase I in their COVID-19 guidance and expressed concern regarding the potential for additional spikes related to the upcoming holidays. The school district has now had four school closings since the gradual return to in-person school, with classes going virtual at Lakeview for 11/5-6, at the High School on 11/9, at Lincoln for 11/10-12, and at the High School for 11/20. Though the District Administrator indicated on November 23 that there is only evidence of one student having been infected at school, cases among students have risen considerably. The 29 new staff/student cases (including 6 staff) continued an upward trend, compared with 24 new cases in the previous week. WUSD’s current data indicates that since September 1 there have been 57 positive cases among students and 17 staff members. In-person classes resumed fulltime for 4K – 5th grade on September 28; grades 6-12 began a hybrid model on October 12, and fulltime in-person classes resumed on November 2.
  • UWWs current data shows that last week there were 47 students and 2 staff/others with positive PCR tests, a decline from the 57 students in the previous week. In the initial four weeks of the semester there had been a total of 371 students and 15 others. In the past seven weeks there have been 246 students and 23 others with positive PCR tests. Positive results from the rapid antigen tests that are administered to asymptomatic and random volunteers increased from 1.1% six weeks ago to 1.9% five weeks ago, 3.35% four weeks ago, to 8.15% three weeks ago. With an increase in testing, those results dropped two weeks ago to 5.85% positive, and this past week to 3.6%.
  • Two weeks ago the state introduced a new “critically high” COVID activity level. Per this state website, the state as a whole and all counties except Green now have “critically high” COVID activity levels. Per the state, “COVID-19 remains very contagious and most people in Wisconsin are still at risk of getting sick from the virus.”

DAILY CASE INCIDENCE PER 100,000 PEOPLE – WALWORTH COUNTY

End DateNew cases/14 daysIncidenceNew cases/7 daysIncidence
9/1552738.840359.2
9/2264847.724536
9/2937927.913419.7
10/530222.217625.9
10/1630822.617625.9
10/2542731.426539.0
11/153339.226839.4
11/879558.552777.6
11/16121889.662892.4
11/24126693.158686.3
*

DAILY CASE INCIDENCE PER 100,00 PEOPLE – CITY OF WHITEWATER (WALWORTH COUNTY PORTION)

End DateNew cases/14 daysIncidenceNew cases/7 daysIncidence
9/15345206.8284340.4
9/22419251.1132158.1
9/29180107.94857.6
10/174225.12024.0
10/256136.64554.0
11/17544.93036.0
11/88852.75869.6
11/1616095.987104.3
11/24205122.9101121.0

TEST POSITIVITY RESULTS – CITY OF WHITEWATER (WALWORTH COUNTY PORTION)

End Date# Tests Reported – 14 days# PositivePositivity %# Tests Reported – 7 days#PositivePositivity %
8/222162712.5%10365.8%
8/29240197.9%128139.2%
9/74217718.3%2746021.9%
9/2095840442.2%57120435.7%
9/2966318027.1%2364820.3%
10/171754224.0%802025.0%
10/253106119.7%1404532.1%
11/12667528.2%1263023.8%
11/82978829.6%1715833.4%
11/1641316038.7%2348737.2%
11/2444320546.3%18210155%

TEST POSITIVITY RESULTS – WALWORTH COUNTY

End Date# Tests Reported – 14 days#PositivePositivity %# Tests Reported – 7 days# PositivePositivity %% of Those with Positive Results Who Reported being Asymptomatic Total Deaths
8/22238627711.6%107111210.5%11.4%25
8/29197221010.6%9019810.9%11.1%27
9/7195322811.7%98612913.1%10.9%32
9/22268964824.1%124924519.6%9.7%34
9/29250437915.1%125513410.7%9.75%35
10/5218930213.8%86417625.6%9.49%35
10/16180330814.6%114217615.4%9.47%36
10/25330442712.9%109726524.2%9.36%38
11/1228953323.3%119226822.5%9.10%39
11/8274879528.9%155652733.9%8.8%39
11/163465121835.2%182462834.4%7.84%43
11/243651126634%178758632.8%7.51%47
Note: On May 12, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) advised governments that before reopening, rates of positivity in testing (ie, out of all tests conducted, how many came back positive for COVID-19) should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14 days. If a positivity rate is too high, that may indicate that the state is only testing the sickest patients who seek medical attention, and is not casting a wide enough net to know how much of the virus is spreading within its communities. Wisconsin’s current positivity rate is 36.5%.

WUSD is providing the following “COVID Tracking Data” on its website at this link.

COVID TRACKING DATA

On September 23, 2020 the WUSD School Board voted to suspend the utilization of a community level metric.

Below is the cumulative and current number of close contact, symptomatic, COVID positive staff and students.

District COVID Tracking Data Sept 1 – November 23 (updated Nov. 24)
CumulativeNov. 23
STAFF
Close Contact Positive Person5514
Showing Symptoms482
Tested COVID-Positive173
Total Quarantined Staff120
STUDENTSClose Contact Positive Person 343115
Showing Symptoms3868
Tested COVID-Positive5719
Total Quarantined Students786
TotalsNumber of Positive COVID Cases74
Number of Days of School56

UWW has established the following dashboard which provides useful information. It is found at this link.

COVID-19 Dashboard

The COVID-19 pandemic is an ever-changing situation and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater actively monitors and reviews a series of health, safety, and resource metrics to guide decision-making with regard to university operations. These metrics are considered in combination and consultation with recommendations and orders from the state and county health departments before any changes in operations are made.

Last Updated 11/24/2020 at 9:00 AM

COVID-19 cases reported to UW-Whitewater

New reports – Week of Nov. 15-21Previous weekCumulative reports since March 2020
Students4757648
Employees2337
Other015
Unknown023

Dashboard is updated on business days with available data. Numbers include cases reported through university-coordinated testing, as well as those reported through the COVID-19 Hotline, which may include testing that occurred off-campus through other health clinics/providers. Student employees are counted in the student numbers. The “Other” category is defined as any positive cases reported to UW-Whitewater who are neither students nor employees and may include visitors to the university, contractors or vendors, or others who have been to the university in person.  These numbers represent individuals who have had direct contact with the campuses.  Individuals who are working or attending solely in a remote manner and not living in University Housing are not included.

Regional Metrics


University Health and Counseling Services (11/9-11/23)Walworth County (11/7-11/20)Rock County (10/28-11/10)Jefferson CountyWisconsin (7-day average)
Percent Positive40% (114/288*)24.45%31.9%25%29.3%
Time to complete contact tracing100% of contacts are initiated within 48 hours**29% of contacts are initiated within 48 hours23% of contacts are initiated within 48 hoursNot AvailableN/A
Healthcare system capacity levelNo crisis management of care8% ICU beds availableHospitals at a medium capacity levelNot Available15% Available (Based on Immediate Bed Availability)
Total cases per 100,000n/a1373.1
(98.1 per day)
1319.7
(94.3 per day)
1511.7
(108/day)
1519.4
(108.5)

*UHCS percentage positive is based on PCR testing performed at the University Clinic site of students only.  Case totals are represented by (Total Positives/Total PCR Tests)

**To avoid duplication, UHCS actively partners with Walworth, Rock, and Jefferson Health Departments.  County Health Departments do tracing of positive cases and UHCS employees do tracing of contact cases. 

Previous 7 days of PCR Tests Administered

PCR* Test Date# of PCR Tests Administered
11/13/2014
11/16/2036
11/17/2033
11/18/2025
11/19/2014
11/20/2021
11/23/2022

*PCR testing is conducted on symptomatic individuals and individuals with positive Antigen testing results.

Total All PCR Tests# of PCR Negative# of PCR PositivePercentage Positive
1555110050731.5%
3.2%Antigen* Test Date# of Antigen Tests Administered# of Antigen Negative Results# of Antigen Positive ResultsPercentage Positive
11/13/20666246.1%
11/16/2020819494.3%
11/17/2016716163.6%
11/18/20269257124.5%
11/19/20270260103.7%
11/20/2025825351.9%
11/23/2029929093.0%
Weekly total 15371477553.6%
Total All Antigen Tests680165052844.2%

*Antigen testing is conducted on asymptomatic and random volunteers.

Kelly Davis not running for re-election on WUSD Board (Updated)

By Lynn Binnie
Whitewater Banner volunteer staff
whitewaterbanner@gmail.com

In response to a question as to whether she had decided whether to run for re-election in April to the Whitewater Unified School Board, Kelly Davis provided this response, “I have been humbled to serve on the Whitewater Unified School District School Board for the past six years, but recently informed Dr Pate-Hefty, the entire School Board, District administrative leaders and past supporters that I will not be running again in April. I am, of course, happy to talk with anyone who may want to know more about running for and serving on the Board.” Ms. Davis currently serves as Vice President of the board.

The seat currently held by Tom Ganser will also be on the April 6, 2021 election. Mr. Ganser told the Banner that he plans to run for reelection.

(Banner comment: Updates made in this paragraph.) Board members are elected for three-year terms, and may be paid $15 per meeting, although many decline to accept the payment. In addition to regular meetings on the fourth Monday of each month, members are also appointed to serve on committees. In December’s meeting there is planned to be discussion about the “quantity of school board meetings,” an item that was deferred from the November agenda. Reportedly in the past the board sometimes met twice monthly.

Per Kelly’s invitation, residents of the school district who may be interested in running for the board could contact her at kellydavis@wwusd.org. Information may also be obtained from the School Board Secretary, Jaclyn Tueting, at jtueting@wwusd.org, 419 S. Elizabeth St., or 262-472-8702. The deadline for filing for candidacy with Ms. Tueting is 5:00 p.m. on January 5, 2021. Candidates are not required to submit nominating petitions. They do not run for a specific seat; in this case, the two candidates with the most votes will be elected.

UW-W reprises its role of service to the community during crisis

UW-Whitewater reprises its role of service to the community during crisis

(UW-W press release) The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the Whitewater community have been through a great deal together in more than 150 years, including two world wars, the 1918 influenza pandemic and, now, the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the University of Wisconsin System, UW-Whitewater abides by the Wisconsin Idea — the idea that knowledge and research from the universities should benefit citizens across the state. In October, as COVID-19 cases spiked, UW System President Tommy Thompson called system campuses to put the Wisconsin Idea into practice by serving as regional COVID-19 surge testing centers during a six-week federal testing program secured by Thompson, who is a former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To date, 4,565 people — including UW-Whitewater students, faculty and staff and Whitewater community members — have used the testing site in the Kris Russell Volleyball Arena at UW-Whitewater’s Williams Center athletics facility.

Other members of the campus community have met the call as well. Students have reached out to fellow Warhawks who are in quarantine from COVID-19 and attending classes remotely. The Warhawk Pantry fills requests for extra food from students in quarantine at Clem Hall and from students quarantining at home off campus. Student organizations have led drives for gifts and food.

While the marshalling of efforts to meet the challenge of COVID-19 may feel unprecedented, it is just the latest manifestation of a Warhawk tradition of community and caring in times of crisis.

In spring 1917, students at the Whitewater Normal School, as the institution was named at the time, were looking forward to music and dancing at the annual spring pageant. But that changed when war was declared against Germany, and the U.S. entered World War I.

“Plans for the annual pageant, by all means the biggest event of the school year, were well under way,” said a story in the Whitewater Register. “Then came the declaration of war. Both faculty and students felt that they wished to do something.”

The pageant money was spent on seeds to raise crops on a two-acre plot on campus. The Register reporter wrote: “The men decided to digress from dancing to the cultivation of beans. The proceeds from the sale of the crop will be given to the Red Cross.”

Women, who had been admitted to the college from its inception in 1868, were not to be outdone by the gardeners. On the first day of Commencement Week, the day always set aside for the pageant, the women instead staged a benefit “fete” with music, dancing and drills for the public, charging 25 cents per person. Through 1918, the campaigns raised $1,250 — a fortune in those days — toward a national effort to house soldiers.

By 1918, the nation was dealing with both the final year of World War I and the first year of a worldwide flu pandemic. In just over two years, the pandemic would claim millions of lives worldwide. In Whitewater, people were asked to protect themselves in ways that will sound familiar today: avoiding contact with others, keeping hands clean, keeping hands out of the mouth, covering the nose with a handkerchief, boiling that handkerchief to clean it, avoiding direct contact with the sick, refraining from sharing tableware and getting good food and rest.

Beneath the title “If you have it —,” a Whitewater Register newspaper item published that year listed numerous precautions for flu victims to observe, including, “Do not kiss anyone.”

To make the pandemic more terrifying, it would ebb like the tide, and then return, twice, like a tsunami. During the second wave, a December 1918 Royal Purple story stated, “Whitewater is harder hit this time than last, but nothing is closed up and people seem to think there is no danger at all. And it is in that that the real danger lies.”

A little more than two decades later, in 1942, the Royal Purple was reporting on the early, dark days of World War II. Students volunteered with citizens in drives to fold surgical dressings for the Red Cross. For October alone, the quota of dressings expected from Whitewater was a sobering 20,000 bandages.

Quite possibly with a pang of emotion from personal experience, the Royal Purple reporter wrote, “There certainly must be very few on the campus who have not had the war brought close to home since last December.”

During World War II, the Wisconsin Idea of sending university expertise to every corner of the state was in full strength. In 1943 the Whitewater campus hosted one of Wisconsin’s eight Wartime Farm and Home Week sessions, a traveling short course by faculty from the College of Agriculture at UW-Madison. Dean Chris Christensen stated in the Royal Purple that the college “is moving programs out to you in critical days when all our efforts are directed in a maximum production of food, feed and fiber.”

Homemakers heard Frances Zuell, of the home economics program at UW-Madison, talk about “Woman Power in War Years.” Zuell and other home economist faculty taught about good nutrition, family morale, wasting nothing and, above all, how to make food and clothing last as long as possible.

Fast forward to 2020. Last month, as political science honor student Aailya Evans packed gift bags for students in COVID-19 quarantine, she said, “I just wanted to give back to the community and the students on campus who have been affected by COVID. I would say to them, ‘Stay strong. I hope we can make you smile and know that we’re still here for you.’”

WUSD Announcement regarding virtual instruction beginning December 1

(This letter was sent to WUSD families on Nov. 24.)

Dear Whitewater Families and greater community,

Following the guidance from the Walworth and Rock County health departments, Monday evening, the School Board approved a temporary virtual instruction plan following Thanksgiving and winter breaks.

On Monday, November 30 there will be no school, to allow staff to prepare for this temporary virtual instructional plan. Virtual instruction will begin on Tuesday, December 1. 

Four-year-old kindergarten, along with targeted students with disabilities (special education) and English Learner (EL) students will continue to attend in-person five days per week. Early Childhood will continue in-person support four days per week. Please watch for a separate school-level communication regarding schedule changes during this temporary virtual plan. Compared to prior virtual periods, virtual instruction expectations will be increased, including direction instruction time at the elementary level, expectations for middle school home room and guided study periods, and direct instruction minutes at the high school. 

Online meals will continue throughout the temporary virtual instruction period. Additional information and ordering instructions will be available online: https://sites.google.com/wwusd.org/wusd-covid-19/food-service

Students will resume their regular in-person schedule on Monday, January 18, 2021. 

We feel confident in our planning and preparation for this temporary virtual period.  While it is our goal to have face-to-face instruction when safe and practical, we believe in our virtual platform and the expertise of our teachers.

I understand this decision will result in difficulties for our families.  By pulling together as a community, we can continue to support our students and the strong tradition of excellence at WUSD.  My thoughts will be with our students and families. 

Best,

Dr. Caroline Pate-Hefty

District Administrator

——

Queridas familias de Whitewater y comunidad en general,

Siguiendo la orientación de los departamentos de salud de los condados de Walworth y Rock, el lunes por la noche, la Junta Escolar aprobó un plan de instrucción virtual temporal después de las vacaciones de Acción de Gracias y de invierno.

El lunes 30 de noviembre no habrá clases, para permitir que el personal se prepare para este plan de instrucción virtual temporal. La instrucción virtual comenzará el martes 1 de diciembre.

El jardín de infantes de cuatro años o 4K, junto con ciertos estudiantes específicos con discapacidades (educación especial) y los estudiantes del programa de inglés (EL) continuarán asistiendo en persona cinco días a la semana. Early Childhood continuará con el apoyo en persona cuatro días a la semana. Se enviará una comunicación separada a nivel escolar con respecto a los cambios de horario durante este plan virtual temporal. En comparación con los períodos virtuales anteriores, las expectativas de instrucción virtual aumentarán, incluido el tiempo de instrucción en el nivel primario, las expectativas para el salón de clases de la escuela intermedia y los períodos de estudio guiado, y los minutos de instrucción directa en la escuela secundaria.

Las comidas en línea continuarán durante el período de instrucción virtual temporal. Habrá información adicional e instrucciones para realizar pedidos en línea: https://sites.google.com/wwusd.org/wusd-covid-19/food-service .

Los estudiantes reanudarán su horario habitual en persona el lunes 18 de enero del 2021.

Confiamos en nuestra planificación y preparación para este período virtual temporal. Si bien es nuestro objetivo tener instrucción presencial cuando sea seguro y práctico, creemos en nuestra plataforma virtual y en la experiencia de nuestros maestros.

Entiendo que esta decisión resultará en dificultades para nuestras familias. Al unirnos como comunidad, podemos continuar apoyando a nuestros estudiantes y la sólida tradición de excelencia en WUSD. Mis pensamientos estarán con nuestros estudiantes y familias.

Saludos,

Dra. Caroline Pate-Hefty

Administradora de distrito

WUSD Board votes to pause in-person instruction from Nov. 30 thru Jan. 17 (ADDENDUM ADDED)

By Lynn Binnie
Whitewater Banner volunteer staff
whitewaterbanner@gmail.com
November 23, 2020

At the regular, virtual board meeting on November 23, Whitewater Unified School District Administrator Dr. Caroline Pate-Hefty informed the members of the recommendations of the Walworth and Rock County Health Departments that in-person instruction be paused due to the rapid increase in COVID-19 infections in the area and the expectation of further increases related to the holidays. After hearing mixed comments from parents and teachers for nearly an hour, board members discussed various options but ultimately adopted the proposal that was offered by Dr. Pate-Hefty:
November 30 – No school; prep day for staff
December 1 – Virtual instruction begins
January 18 – Return to in-person instruction
Exceptions to the above: Early childhood and 4K will continue with five days per week in-person instruction, as will students who are recognized as having special needs due to learning style or lack of adequate Internet access.

The proposal was accepted on a 4-3 vote, with Thayer Coburn, Kelly Davis, and Jennifer Kienbaum opposed.

Addendum – Nov. 24

Last week both Walworth and Rock Counties had reverted to their Phase I COVID-19 guidance. In that phase, Walworth County Health & Human Service’s guidance, developed early in the pandemic, recommended that there be no in-person instruction for K-12 and higher education. Specific guidance that was provided last Friday by Walworth County was to consider using virtual instruction for at least one week after a holiday, though they felt it would be prudent to follow the 14-day quarantine period recommended by CDC. It is the first time that Walworth County has issued such a recommendation during the pandemic. Rock County’s guidance is specifically to pause in-person instruction for at least two weeks after a holiday. Following the full guidance would result in a return to in-person instruction for only seven days between Thanksgiving and the winter break. Jefferson County’s guidance has not changed; however, under their existing guidance schools would already have been pausing in-person instruction for a long time.

Several area schools have decided to pause in-person instruction for the holidays, including Cambridge (until January 25), Edgerton (Nov. 30-Jan. 18), and Milton (Nov. 30-Jan.15).

Dr. Pate-Hefty indicated that if the board decided to return to virtual instruction, she would recommend that the early childhood and 4K classes continue as is, and that face-to-face instruction time be increased for those grades using virtual instruction. A particular concern is the elementary students, whose attention can only be expected to be held to a screen for a reasonable period of time, but a proposed schedule has been developed that would provide more vitual teacher contact.

Six parents spoke in opposition to the proposal to return to virtual instruction. Some argued that students were safer at school, as evidenced by only one apparent in-school incidence of transmission. Concern was also expressed regarding virtual learning not being as effective as in-person and parents having to take time off work in order to care for children and assist with their learning.

Mandi Kolb, a 911 dispatcher, indicated that she has a child in elementary and another in Middle School. She stated that at work she is taking call after call related to COVID. Ms. Kolb stated that “we need to be kind and courteous and not blame the staff….We all want kids in school. The Board has the hardest job. It’s about the community.”

Kate McNulty, a Spanish and speech communication teacher at WHS, felt that every choice the board has made has been the “best of worse options.” She stated that she appreciated the proposal rather than to wait for serious illness. There are students who don’t feel safe. Recently she had only 9 students present of a class of 21. Rosalinda Martinez, ELL teacher at WMS/WHS stated that the health staff have worked tirelessly in doing contact tracing and notification. She has heard from many parents asking why school is still open.

Board member Kelly Davis stated that she feels the State has failed to provide leadership on the issue, pitting district against district. “Anything we do is going to be wrong,” she stated.

Member Jennifer Kienbaum stated that she has read every email and feels the frustration and anxiety from parents and staff. She has recently been visiting the schools and found good compliance with social distancing and following other guidelines.

Member Steve Ryan stated that a lot of districts that started full in-person are now going virtual. He was most concerned about reports that students do not feel safe going to school.

Member Thayer Coburn said, “We were willing to close in March; the numbers are far higher now.” He stated, however, that he wasn’t sure if all grade levels needed to be treated the same.

Member Casey Judd indicated that the new recommendations came out due to concerns with hospital capacity and lack of PPE.

It appeared that the three members who voted against the proposal might have supported pausing the Middle School and High School but either continuing full in-person or hybrid instruction at the elementary level.

In other business:

Brianna Pope was approved to be hired for Homeless Outreach under a three-year grant.

Approval was given to purchase an air cooled chiller for the High School at a cost of $293,600. The current original equipment chiller is water cooled, but according to Business Manager Matthew Sylvester-Knudtson, the advantages of air cooled equipment justify the additional cost of approximately $60,000.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m. The video of the meeting may be found here.