RIVER FALLS — High School students will need two fewer credits to graduate starting with the class of 2022, a change administrators said opens college and career readiness opportunities as well as provides flexibility for seniors who may have struggled with grades in their freshman and sophomore years.

River Falls School Board unanimously approved the drop from 30 credits to 28 at a special meeting Monday night. The motion was introduced to the board in December, though the district had been discussing the idea with teachers for years.

School Board president Stacy Johnson Myers said the proposal has continued to evolve, and that the board was comfortable voting on the measure now because of the work done over that time.

“The reason why we’re able to pass it is I think we have more clarity, we have much more specificity about what the goals are and what the process is going to be,” she said.

Two credits equate to two semester-long classes. A single term class is worth half of a credit.

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The 30 credit requirement left “a very small margin for error” for students, River Falls High School Principal Kit Luedtke told School Board on Dec. 21

Among the concerns voiced previously about the change includes the potential for decreased enrollment in elective classes. The new policy requires 12.5 credits come from electives, down from 14.5.

Students are required to earn at least a half credit in Introduction to Economics or Personal Finance classes.

The district’s Educational Program Committee signed off on the changes on Dec. 14.

In pandemic news…

School Board on Monday approved some revisions to the district’s COVID-19 plan, including eased restrictions on club sports and spectators.

Youth and club sports are allowed to begin using school facilities if participants sign a liability form and teams provide an approved COVID-19 safety plan. Additionally, the number of spectators allowed per family at River Falls home athletic games was increased from two to up to four depending on space in the venue.

Physical education students also are cleared to resume aerobic activities for 15-20 minute spans with mitigation measures in place, such as distancing and masks.

Grades 9-12, which had switched to distance-only learning in November, were scheduled to return to hybrid in-person/distance learning on Jan. 11. As of Monday night’s meeting, there were fewer than five staff members and fewer than 15 students districtwide in the infectious period of COVID-19, according to a report to the board.