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Benton prepares for return to school


BENTON, Wis.–As schools prepare to return for the 2021-22 school year, many questions have been raised by students, parents and community members about what in-person learning will look like this year.

Benton School District Superintendent Todd Bastian asked for the school board’s consensus on a number of topics at the Wednesday, July 14 board meeting.

Bastian noted that he met with other southwest Wisconsin superintendents recently to discuss topics, and opinions vary on what to do.

Bastian emphasized that some students are vaccinated, while others, such as the elementary students, are not.

School board member Bob Knight asked about keeping students in the elementary school six feet apart.

“That is going to be our plan when possible,” said Bastian. “Obviously, that doesn’t always occur, but we will try to do so as much as possible and set the classrooms up like that.”

The board agreed that masks will be voluntary this school year in buildings.

“I would be perfectly alright with masks being voluntary or up to the students’ discretion,” said Brian Korleski, board member. “I don’t see anything wrong with encouraging it.”

Bastian said the opinions about masks in school districts vary with some having no masks, while others are requiring masks until two months after the elementary students are vaccinated.

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“CDC might tell us right before school starts that masks are required, but we want to plan if that doesn’t happen,” said Bastian.

Bastian explained that masks will still need to be used on buses as that is federal regulation.

Benton will continue to serve breakfast in the classrooms, as they did last year, but students will likely return to the lunch room this school year.

“We would like to seat students the way we did prior to COVID (in the lunch room),” said Bastian. “When you talk to the younger kids they missed being able to sit together at lunch.”

“They would beg for a normal lunch room,” said Principal Lisa Lawrence.

Students will be encouraged to use water bottles, but drinking fountains will be available as well.

The board also:

•approved a contract with TC Networks for July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2024.

•approved the student handbook for 2021-22.

•approved the extracurricular code for 2021-22.