Two longtime Pine River-Backus educators with more than 80 years of combined experience will not return in the fall.

In its regular Monday, Feb. 22, meeting, the PR-B School Board accepted the resignations of elementary teacher Linda Henkel and high school science teacher Kim Sheley, effective at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

Henkel, the current PR-B Teacher of the Year, has worked in the district since 1974.

A Backus High School alum and former Teacher of the Year in her own right, Sheley has taught in the school district since 1985.

Board chair Chris Cunningham thanked both educators for their service to the district and wished them the best in retirement on behalf of the board.

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The board also accepted the resignation of transportation director Christopher Norton, effective, Friday, March 19.

The board agreed to post for the replacements of all three.

In other action Monday, the board authorized a posting for a dean of students, working as a teacher on special assignment with a 185-day contract.

“We would like to get this posted, with approval of the job description, so we can get out in front of this position,” Superintendent Jonathan Clark said. “We have internal candidates who may be interested, so if there is a domino effect, we can fill those spots as well.”

COVID-19

In his report to the board, Clark said the district - as of Monday night - had no cases of COVID-19 to report. That rapidly changed by Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 23, when the district announced grades 7-12 would go back to distance learning Wednesday, Feb. 24, returning to the classroom Monday, March 8, because of positive cases of COVID-19 within the school impacting secondary and support services.

As high school students begin reporting for in-person learning, Clark said things become trickier for the district, as more efforts to mitigate potential spread are needed.

“If the county is below 10 (cases per 10,000 residents), you don’t have to socially distance, but that is only in the classroom,” Clark said. “In the hall and cafeteria, we have to do the best that we can.

“Mitigation is a little tricky, but I think we are good … Athletics has been working. Our athletes are following the rules. They are masking up when they can and coaches are following the protocols."

Discussions have begun regarding spring events like prom and concerts but no decisions have been made. Clark said the district is not ruling anything out.

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.