By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE — What the 2020-21 school year will look like for the Wawasee Community School Corporation is becoming more clear, but understandably plans are of a more tentative nature depending on state directives on the pandemic.
During the regular monthly meeting of the Wawasee School Board Tuesday evening, July 14, in the Wawasee High School auditorium, the board heard a report from Dr. Stephen Troyer, assistant superintendent, about the plan to have kids back in school buildings.
Families will be asked to do an at-home health screening following a checklist with such questions as does the child have a fever greater than 100 degrees, does the child have a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell and nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Hand washing protocols will be developed for each classroom and school building for critical times and hand sanitizer will be available in each classroom along with high traffic areas throughout schools.
It is recommended students wear a mask, but they will be able to remove masks in the classroom. Students are strongly encouraged to wear masks in hallways, restrooms and in other common areas. Masks will be required on school buses, in health clinics and where space is limited. Students and staff will be provided masks and disposable masks will be available when needed.
Those testing positive for COVID-19 will need to be quarantined for 10-14 days before returning to school. Until further notice, all schools will open 30 minutes later than normal each day to allow time for targeted cleaning and for staff to work with students who are involved with remote learning. Visitors will be limited to the office area of each building until further notice. External field trips and convocations will not be scheduled and public events and programs will be evaluated on an individual basis, but may be restricted.
Classrooms will be arranged to create as much personal space for students as possible, sharing supplies is discouraged and students will remain in their individual classroom groupings whenever possible. Thorough cleaning and sanitizing will happen each night with careful attention given to high traffic areas.
Those families who do not feel comfortable sending their students back to school will be given an online option for learning, but are asked to make a commitment for at least one trimester no later than July 31. After July 31, enrollment requests will be considered on a case by case basis and subject to availability. Troyer noted the July 31 deadline is needed so the proper staff and resources can be available.
The plan, which was approved by the school board, will be subject to the state’s reopening plan. Troyer said lunch and recess are “still being fleshed out” and options are being considered that will provide more space for students to eat lunch.
In other business, the board heard a report from Pat Terrell of the Indianapolis-based Winston Terrell Group. He noted his business has helped more than 60 school districts in the state work with state school referendums. If a school corporation decides to pursue a referendum “it becomes a political campaign and the candidate is a thing, not a person,” Terrell said.
If the school board passes a resolution to proceed with the referendum process, a political action committee made up of local community members will be formed and begin campaigning immediately up until the November election when a question will be placed on ballots.
Dr. Tom Edington, Wawasee superintendent, said it is becoming more of a challenge to continue to provide the same level of programs and staffing in the school corporation and a referendum would provide needed funding. The board approved to continue working with the Winston Terrell Group and will consider a resolution soon to actually launch the referendum process.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, it was noted next summer’s construction projects will include new carpeting and stage updates among other projects at Wawasee Middle School and at Wawasee High School, technology improvements will be made to support new wireless access points and firewall upgrades among other projects.
Several teacher grant requests were approved including $3,000 for a frisbee golf course at North Webster Elementary, $4,000 for graphing calculators to be used in Analytical Algebra 2 at the high school, $250 for a world wall map in the media center at WMS and more.
Other agenda items included:
• A $25,000 Views on Learning grant will provide Sprint hotspot devices and Zoom accounts for the school corporation.
• Evan Coblentz, a soon to be graduating senior, was recognized for being selected as the Indiana State FFA treasurer.
• 111 high school students have enrolled in online APEX courses since June and 57 are continuing into the second session this month.
• Wawasee is partnering with Kosciusko County United Way to offer “Start United” for the summer school program to occur July 20 to Aug. 7.
• James Flecker was approved as the new school corporation treasurer and Dr. Stephen Troyer will be allowed to open sealed bids and receive quotes for school business.
• Jennifer Phillips, director of special services, will take care of COVID-19 related reports and expenditures.
• Approval was given to change the base daily mileage for bus route drivers from 60 miles to 75 miles. WHS and WMS routes have been separated for efficiency.