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Beloit School Board postpones decision on in-person learning

BELOIT — The Beloit School District Board of Education is planning to reopen with some type of in-person learning option on term 4 which begins in early April.

The school board met starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday and at about 2 a.m. Wednesday it voted unanimously for interim Superintendent Dan Keyser to bring back a revised reopening plan addressing concerns shared by staff, families and board members.

“The consensus of the board is that kids need to get back to school, but it needs to happen with safe timing and ensuring that all safety precautions are tested, operated and in place,” said Vice President Megan Miller in an interview following the meeting meeting. “Also we felt any kind of reopening plan should be vetted by teachers and parents.”

Tuesday’s meeting with the topic of school reopening with a hybrid model kicked off at 7 p.m. and public comment went until after 1:11 a.m. Wednesday. At that time, Miller said there was about a 5 minute recess.

After the recess, Miller said board member John Wong moved to set aside any more public comment emails and asked to forgo Keyser’s presentation on the hybrid model for reopening school. He asked that the term 3 start with virtual learning in the existing model and to bring back an updated plan as more information is available on vaccinations with the intention of reopening for term 4. In addition to that language, Miller said Wong asked to continue to bring in small groups of high need students that need in-person support, and asked originally to resume sports and extracurricular activities.

However, board member Amiee Leavy requested more information on a potential sports reopening from Athletic Director Joel Beard. The vote on in person sports and extracurricular activities will take place Jan. 26, Miller said.

Wong agreed with Leavy’s friendly amendment which was seconded by board member Spencer Anderson, Miller said.

If the Jan. 26 vote passes there will be in-person sports and extra-curricular activities, Miller said.

The date for the school reopening vote hasn’t been determined yet, but will happen sometime in March. Miller noted board member Stephanie Jacobs withdrew her motion from the Dec. 15 meeting to reopening with a hybrid model on Feb. 1.

Miller also added that students with individual education plans will be prioritized for in-person instructional support.

At close to 2 a.m. Wednesday, Miller said the board voted for Keyser to bring back a revised reopening plan addressing concerns shared by staff, families and board members. Although the vote was unanimous, it didn’t include a vote by Board President Kyle Larsen. At around 10 p.m., Larsen sent fellow board members an email that he was resigning. He has declined any further comment on the reasons for his resignation.

Miller said a new detailed survey for families and staff with more in depth questions will go out soon.

“We reached consensus that we wanted a survey that was more specific, got more in-depth and made more of an effort to reach into every community of Beloit,” Miller said.

Miller said there were a lot of concerns expressed at the meeting about the high rates of COVID-19 especially among minority communities, and the lack of specific information on safety procedures in reopening.

With educators having the option to get vaccinations in coming weeks, it makes sense to wait a bit longer to reopen for in-person learning, Miller said.

“It leaves time for vaccines and for community spread to get under control, to get a lot more teacher and family input and gives us time how to transition kids back into school who are going to need intervention,” Miller said.

Miller said concerns were raised by staff and families that there wasn’t enough communication and details on the proposed plan. There were also concerns the COVID-19 rates are far too high in Rock County to ensure safety for students and staff.

When asked if the board would consider starting meetings earlier to allow for such a large volume of public comment Miller said: “We could discuss that. I’ think next time we’ll hold a public hearing first and then vote a different day.”

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Beloit Public Library to offer Picture Day for kids

BELOIT — Just because school is virtual for some Beloiters it doesn’t mean they can’t celebrate the year’s milestones. Beloit Public Library (BPL) is helping Beloit families remember their children’s 2020- 2021 school year with free school pictures.

Picture Day at Beloit Public Library will provide each school child with one professional photo sitting, one 8-by-10-inch photograph, and one sheet of wallet-size photos taken by photographer Amanda Reseburg of Type A Images.

“It’s to help families have a little bit of normalcy,” said BPL Head of Programming and Community Engagement Katharine Clark. “And we miss families being in here, and this is a good way to do it safely.”

“Parents feel kids are missing out on milestones,” Reseburg said. “School picture day is huge.”

Reseburg said families will be able to choose between two backdrops—traditional and a more relaxed contemporary look. Kids will wear masks to the library and be able to take off their masks during the photo sitting.

Photos will be printed and available for pickup at the library beginning March 16. Reseburg will put all the images on a secure website so if families want to order more down the line they could do that.

It will be held at Beloit Public Library on four separate days in February; families can choose a five-minute session for each child on the day that works best for them: Friday, Feb. 5 from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 6 from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 12 from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.; and Saturday, Feb. 13 from 10 a.m.—4 p.m.

This event is open to any Beloit student in grades PreK-12. Registration is required through the library website at www.beloitlibrary.org/how-do-i/register-for-a-program/.

The program is funded by a grant from American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation as part of its overall effort to provide COVID-19 relief to non-profit organizations providing services in their communities.

“Part of the grant is to help families who experienced hardships during COVID-19 This was a great fit,” Clark said.

Clark said the event will also help remind families of other resources at the library such as books and online tutoring offers.

As with all in-person programming at BPL, participants are asked to follow local health safety guidelines including staying 6 feet apart from others outside of their household and to regularly wash hands. Masks are required in the building, although will be removable for the photo sitting.

Brodhead's Abbie Dix (32), center, shoots over Edgerton defenders Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at Edgerton High School.

Trump impeached after Capitol riot in historic second charge

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House for a historic second time Wednesday, charged with “incitement of insurrection” over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol in a swift and stunning collapse of his final days in office.

With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump. The proceedings moved at lightning speed, with lawmakers voting just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, urged on by the president’s calls for them to “fight like hell” against the election results.

Ten Republicans fled Trump, joining Democrats who said he needed to be held accountable and warned ominously of a “clear and present danger” if Congress should leave him unchecked before Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20.

Trump is the only U.S. president to be twice impeached.

The Capitol insurrection stunned and angered lawmakers, who were sent scrambling for safety as the mob descended, and it revealed the fragility of the nation’s history of peaceful transfers of power. The riot also forced a reckoning among some Republicans, who have stood by Trump throughout his presidency and largely allowed him to spread false attacks against the integrity of the 2020 election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invoked Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, imploring lawmakers to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign “and domestic.”

She said of Trump: “He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

Holed up at the White House, watching the proceedings on TV, Trump took no responsibility for the bloody riot seen around the world, but issued a statement urging “NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind” to disrupt Biden’s ascension to the White House.

In the face of the accusations against him and with the FBI warning of more violence, Trump said, “That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers.”

Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 acquit. He is the first to be impeached twice. None has been convicted by the Senate, but Republicans said Wednesday that could change in the rapidly shifting political environment as officeholders, donors, big business and others peel away from the defeated president.

The soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Trump is already set to leave the White House, McConnell’s office said. The legislation is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running again.

McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and considers the Democrats’ impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the divisive, chaotic president’s hold on the GOP, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press.

McConnell told major donors over the weekend that he was through with Trump, said the strategist, who demanded anonymity to describe McConnell’s conversations.

In a note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said he had “not made a final decision on how I will vote.”

Unlike his first time, Trump faces this impeachment as a weakened leader, having lost his own reelection as well as the Senate Republican majority.

Even Trump ally Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, shifted his position and said Wednesday the president bears responsibility for the horrifying day at the Capitol.

In making a case for the “high crimes and misdemeanors” demanded in the Constitution, the four-page impeachment resolution approved Wednesday relies on Trump’s own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Biden’s election victory, including at a rally near the White House on the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. The riot delayed the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Biden’s victory.

Ten Republican lawmakers, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, voted to impeach Trump, cleaving the Republican leadership, and the party itself.

Cheney, whose father is the former Republican vice president, said of Trump’s actions summoning the mob that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a President” of his office.

Trump was said to be livid with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney.

With the team around Trump hollowed out and his Twitter account silenced, the president was deeply frustrated that he could not hit back, according to White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing.

Security was exceptionally tight at the Capitol, with tall fences around the complex. Metal-detector screenings were required for lawmakers entering the House chamber, where a week earlier lawmakers huddled inside as police, guns drawn, barricade the door from rioters.