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Standardized testing cancelled for the academic yearSubmitted: 03/26/2020
Standardized testing cancelled for the academic year
Peter Dubois
Peter Dubois
Reporter/Anchor
pdubois@wjfw.com

WISCONSIN - All schools in Wisconsin closed their doors last week, disrupting the daily lives of students and teachers.

On Wednesday, the Department of Public Instruction announced that all state standardized testing has been cancelled for the academic year.

Three Lakes School Principal Gene Welhoefer said he saw this move coming.

"I anticipated this as schools started to close down," said Welhoefer.



This means that elementary and middle schoolers will not be taking the Forward Exams. Additionally, high schoolers will not take the ACT Aspire assessments which factor into schools' state report cards.

Welhoefer said these tests are just one of many examples of students' academic achievements.

"In the grand scheme of things, I don't think it's a big deal," said Welhoefer. "We have lots of data on our students. It's a snapshot of our students on a given day."

Welhoefer said the transition to virtual learning has been a bit overwhelming for students and teachers. That's why the school has decided to work in some break days to make the transition smoother.

"We added some break days in for students. I think they've been working really hard, our teachers have put together excellent plans," said Welhoefer. "But it's time to adapt because this isn't going to be a sprint, it's going to be a marathon I think."

Schools are required to stay closed in the state until at least April 24th, according to the governor's "Safer at Home" directive.

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RHINELANDER - The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic forced schools and colleges around the world to shut their doors.

It's been hard for most students. But seniors are especially concerned 

They worried they may miss out on important milestones. 

"When we are in school it's a whole lot easier to go down the hall, call a classroom to get a kid, talk to them in the hallways, go to the performances and games and all that to just be more present in their life," Tienhaara said.

Rhinelander High School counselor Ryan Tienhaara is doing his best to make sure students are getting the support they need during the Coronavirus pandemic.

"It's important to talk about those frustrations if you are frustrated," Tienhaara said.

Tienhaara says while most seniors have some idea of what's next after high school, some students, including juniors will have to make big decisions remotely.

"Most schools are closed down for who knows how long so it could be lots of virtual visits," Tienhaara said. 

For kids feeling lonely, stressed or anxious, Tienhaara urges students to lean on family and friends.

"Open up those lines of communication with everybody because we are all kind of struggling through this together," Tienhaara said.

While many are worried about missing out on certain experiences, counselors suggest seniors to create new ones by capturing this moment in its own milestone.

"All seniors across the U.S. essentially have lost their spring semester. Not necessarily that that's a good thing but to know that they are not alone while going through these emotions and feeling the frustrations," Tienhaara said.

In the meantime, Tienhaara hopes education is prioritized from here on out and nothing is taken for granted.

"I hope that it will kind of provide a sense of privilege that it is to get an education, go to school and to just kind have a normal life that we used to have. You know it's that saying you don't know what you got until it's gone. I think we are all feeling that right now," Tienhaara said.

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ANTIGO - For Tapped Maple Syrup co-owner Jeremy Solin, harvest season usually means enjoying the outdoors with his four employees, neighbors and family.

"Maple syrup is a big family and community time for us usually," said Solin. "We love to have people out in the woods with us, tapping trees and collecting sap and being part of the cooking process. We just can't do that this year and so its kind of a lonely maple syrup season.

But the growing fears of coronavirus shrunk the team down to just five - making his farm in Antigo eerily quiet.

"I think we'll be okay," said Solin. "It just means a lot more work for fewer people essentially to try and keep up and more stress in a sense during the process of the season."

It's more work for Solin, but still same volume of syrup.

Supply won't be the issue - Solin is concerned about the demand.

"We work with a lot of restaurants, bars, coffee shops who are obviously really struggling at this point," said Solin. "We're concerned about their survival as a small business and partner of ours and friends of ours so as we lose those businesses that's going to affect our business as well."

Coronavirus does not discriminate between essential and non-essential businesses.

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WAUSAU -
Drive to the entrance at Rib Mountain State Park and you usually have to stop there to pay.

That's no longer the case, after the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) waived entrance fees at all state parks and trails to encourage sensible outdoor activity.

"We want folks to use those responsibly and travel within their own communities and maintain social distancing in small groups," said recreation partnership sections chief Missy VanLanduyt

Getting rid of the fees is meant to cut down on potential overcrowding problems at the parks.

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WASHINGTON - Former Vice President Joe Biden took his virtual presidential campaign to the next level Monday when he launched a podcast as the coronavirus forces him to get creative in reaching voters otherwise distracted by a global pandemic.

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MARATHON COUNTY - In a press release, the Marathon County Public Health Department confirms that a fourth person tested positive for COVID-19.

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MADISON - Gov. Tony Evers asked President Donald Trump on Tuesday to issue a major disaster declaration for the state of Wisconsin due to the coronavirus pandemic, as unemployment claims hit a daily high and the state's health secretary warned lawmakers that Medicaid enrollments were going to increase dramatically.

Evers said he hoped the declaration, which also would cover Wisconsin's federally recognized tribes, would allow the states to access critical programs to support its response, including community disaster loans, public assistance, direct assistance and crisis counseling.

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MILWAUKEE - The coronavirus has delivered a severe blow to Wisconsin dairy farmers who rely on selling milk to restaurants, schools and the hospitality industry.

About one-third of Wisconsin dairy products, mainly cheese, are sold in the food service trade, the Journal Sentinel reported.

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