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WB board approves Esports program

BELOIT – The West Branch school district will offer an Esports program next year.

The school board approved a memorandum of understanding with the teachers union that replaces the debate supplemental position with an Esports team position and the Model UN position with an Esports Club one for the 2021-2022 school year.

Esports is a competitive videogaming activity.

Schools Superintendent Micki Egli reported a survey of the student body showed 279 interested in participating in an Esports program. She said the program will be able to reach students who are not otherwise participating in school activities.

Egli said the program will hold tryouts for the league team, similar to other activities that have limited participation. The club will be available to students who do not make the league team.

The district will provide devices for the program while students will provide their own headsets and controllers.

“This is a very fast and upcoming sector of the public for school districts,” Egli noted.

In other business, Egli noted the district’s requirement for mask will end June 2 when the state ends its Covid health protocols.

“We will not be requiring masks from that time forward,” she said.

Students will be allowed to finish the year without masks, Egli said. She noted, however, that students, faculty and staff members will not be prevented from wearing masks if they wish.

Egli also noted the district will not be offering a latch key program in 2021-2022, as child care and preschool programs have returned to full operation, eliminating the need for the program. The program was originally established when busing was reduced, but busing is now at full operation, Egli added, and open enrollment is also being bused along current routes, further reducing the need for the program.

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