By Briley Gargis
WARSAW – Back to school plans, policies, and protocols were the biggest focus at the Warsaw Community Schools Board meeting Wednesday, July 15.
Tim Devlin, who oversees summer school, opened the meeting by discussing the successful operation of the first round of summer school, and what is being done in preparation for the second round of summer school classes on Monday, July 20.
Warsaw Community Schools is one of the first in the state to be offering In-person summer school.
New protocols that are being implemented for summer school and subsequently for the regular school year include; drinking fountains disabled, staggered breaks every hour with 15-minute intervals between three groups, allowing three students per restroom, one-directional hallways, a smaller student-to-teacher ratio strictly set at 20 students, no group assignments, no cellphones and no incentives for perfect attendance. The decision to not offer incentives was made so students don’t feel pressure to show up if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
With the large turnout of students, the corporation needed to have eight more teachers step up to teach summer school. Devlin cites this as being the excitement kids have for coming back to school, seeing their friends and teachers.
In reference to the beginning of the start of the regular in-person school year, Dr. David Hoffert shared multiple announcements. These include the brand new “Warsaw Community Schools” website. This will be the new location for all information that parents need to know on a daily basis. It will also have information regarding events and other activities. Along with the website, the board announced the release of a related app.
Dr. Hoffert also discussed a large portion of the school’s re-opening plan that was previously discussed at Warsaw’s COVID-19 press conference. With that, remote learning plans will be going out on the website Thursday for parents to begin making the choice of if they want to send their students to in-person classes or not. Hoffert said the choice must be made by July 27.
Clubs and other learning opportunities will not be accessible for students who use e-learning.
The transportation department reminded the board of the strict and cautious guidelines that are currently, and will be followed for the upcoming school year. Each morning and evening busses are completely sanitized. There is a strict policy that students and bus drivers must wear masks on the bus.
Emily Dennie, the instructional coach of the STEM education bus that travels to all eight elementary schools, provided an update for the new school year.
She gave an example of all the new lessons that are being implemented for students. Second graders will have access to a new engineering and animal adaptation lab. For third graders, a simple machine lesson. For fourth-graders, new lego robotic kits and snap circuit board for electronics. And for fifth graders, a new lesson for creating models to scale where the entire class will create a scale model of the solar system.
Dennie also discussed the various measures that are being implemented for safety, and cleanliness. All students will wash their hands in their respective buildings before entering the bus and after. hand sanitizers will be available in multiple places throughout the bus. The schedule will be adjusted to allow more time between classes, and it will likely be required that all students will wear masks. Even though social distancing may be hard on the bus, Dennie reminded the board that she is going to whatever is possible for a safe learning environment.
Dani Barkey presented the plans for the upcoming graduation ceremony that will be held Friday, July 17.
In other matters:
Various position changes and hires were approved. There are open positions for a parent liaison, world language teacher, various coaches, and a behavioral coach. Also approved were few changes to employee handbooks, most importantly, the transportation handbook which hadn’t been updated since 2018.
Contracts and projects were approved which included another four-year term with the police department beginning with the 2021 school year for school resource officers, closure of gateway, and subsequent transfer to IVY tech and other facilities.
Other smaller updates were approved by the board, including mandates on non-service animals being allowed in the classroom, and the approval of a CARES Act guide for teachers and staff to follow if they contract COVID-19.