District COVID-19 cases doubled and more to know from the River Falls School Board meeting | News | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

The River Falls School Board met on Nov. 22. Here are three things to know:  

On Nov. 12, the school district made the call to cancel two days prior to the scheduled Thanksgiving break. Students and staff did not have class Nov. 22-23 in addition to the rest of the week. This was a result of two primary issues: COVID-19 numbers and staffing shortages. 

The Thanksgiving break nine-day window “may help slow COVID transmission and put a dent in the rate of spread,” Superintendent Jamie Benson said in his report.

Over a three-week window, Oct. 21 through Nov. 12, COVID-19 cases in the district nearly quadrupled. On Oct. 21, there were 42 cases. By Nov. 12, there were 153.

Student and staff cases more than doubled during that time. As of Oct. 22, the district had 13 cases. On Nov. 12, there were 30. 

“We are hopeful that COVID infection rates decline to allow us to pivot to optional masks, however, current conditions do not warrant such a change,” Superintendent Benson said.

7-day cases per 100,000 population


Oct. 1

Oct. 11

Oct. 21

Nov. 18






New Richmond










St. Croix Central















River Falls





In the first two weeks of November, there were 31 unfilled teaching positions and 49 unfilled support staff positions in the school district. 

Four architects and five construction managers were interviewed to identify firms to work with the district to develop a long-range master facility plan for the new location of the Renaissance Alternative High School. The board voted to approve working with LHB, who has experience with K-12 buildings and education planners on staff. 

The school board must review the District Comprehensive School Safety Plan and related safety drills annually prior to Jan. 1 each year. Safety drill updates were approved.

Nataly Gomez received a Wildcat Pride Award at the Nov. 22 school board meeting. Gomez was presented this award for continuously going “above and beyond her role in the school district as a bilingual paraprofessional,” serving the RF4C program, Rocky Branch and the high school, as well as providing expertise at parent meetings, conferences and during student enrollment. 

Gomez provides districtwide support in a capacity that the staff and board was enthusiastically grateful for. 

“Thank you for your dedication and passion to our school district and local community,” Todd Schultz, treasurer of the school board, said as he presented Gomez with the award. 

Abby Mazzei came onboard in the School District of River Falls earlier this year as a part-time gifted and talented teacher. Since then, she’s been working to establish relationships with teachers and students as well as work to create a schedule based on need and begin support.

Mazzei presented her accomplishments, goals and processes at the Nov. 22 meeting. 

“Understanding students as whole learners who can have strengths and talents in multiple areas helps us to identify those who can benefit from enrichment outside of solely using test scores,” she said in her presentation. “This helps us to represent our student population more equitably.” 

The program currently serves 100 students in first through seventh grade in four buildings as well as within the e-school. It focuses on areas of high achievement, interest and strength.

Students do not need to be formally identified to be included in enrichment opportunities. 

In the spirit of encouraging curious learners, Mazzei has created an app on student technology that allows them to access activities and links to further participate in the programming, outside of scheduled group activities. These resources are available to all students, not just ones who have participated in the gifted and talented program. 

Some of Mazzei’s future goals include creating, revising and finalizing the program’s mission, vision, values and goals as well as identifying and creating program components such as a handbook and identification processes. 

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