All students in the Maple School District will transition to fully virtual learning beginning Monday, Nov. 16. School Board members made the decision during a special board meeting at 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12. The soonest students would return to in-person classes would be Dec. 14, according to District Administrator Sara Croney.

Croney said the move was necessary due to staff and student absenteeism, the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Douglas County and the upcoming holidays. The tipping point came Thursday when they ran into a situation where they just couldn't get enough staff.

"When we need to keep students safe and staff safe, we need to be not only reactive, but proactive," Croney said. "I feel this plan the board approved is both. It's reactive for what the Douglas County, Bayfield County health numbers are, but also the fact that we know families are going to get together, we know that they're going to go deer hunting, we know they're probably going shopping on Black Friday."

The plan factors in a two-week period following the holidays before students rejoin each other in person. Classes will not take place the week of Nov. 23, which had already been designated as a break week.

The Tiger football playoffs and winter sports practices will continue; mobile meal service will be provided for families at five different sites. Teachers have criteria for teaching from home.

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"We did talk about compensation for support staff. The big thing is we're going to keep people busy," Croney said.