By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE — Before giving his student learning report to the Wawasee School Board during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening, Sept. 8, in Syracuse, Dr. Stephen Troyer, assistant superintendent, noted he should probably retitle his presentation to reflect “the weekly COVID-19 update.” The pandemic has certainly involved a tremendous amount of planning and posed challenges to administrators they had never dealt with before.
Troyer noted there have been six confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in the school corporation since the first day of school Aug. 13. When there is a positive case confirmed, contact tracing is required to determine who those students were in contact with for at least 15 minutes at a distance of less than 6 feet.
Students who have shown symptoms of the coronavirus are sent home whether they have tested positive or not until a test result comes back. Troyer said the main reason Wawasee High School was temporarily closed was due to a large number of staff members being in the same household or in close contact with a positive coronavirus case. “We were stretched pretty thin,” he said, so the high school was temporarily closed and some staff members were sent to the other school buildings to help relieve staffing problems.
Although the high school has been closed, those students without internet access have been allowed back into the building to go to the cafeteria so they can access Wi-Fi. As noted in a news release last week and also stated during the board meeting, the plan is to resume in-person learning Monday, Sept. 14.
Troyer said there is a difference between eLearning and virtual learning. With eLearning, assignments are posted by teachers online by a certain time each day, but with virtual learning classes are held live online according to a schedule by using Google Meet. Some teachers are still coming in to their classrooms and using Google Meet, while others are teaching from home. Virtual learning is being used for the four days this week, while eLearning was used Friday, Sept. 4.
It was noted Google Meet has been well received by teachers because, among other reasons, it provides a captioning option where the words spoken by teachers are printed across the screen.
During his report to the school board Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent, noted the start of the school year has been good considering as of early August, “everything was dark and foggy” and there were many more unknowns due to the coronavirus. But he noted “students are following directions” and there has been much cooperation thus far.
Other agenda items included:
• The board approved a donation of $2,000 from the Wawasee Property Owners Association to help pay for the outdoor sailing class offered by WHS during the fall.
• A donation of $1,500 from Fernando and Ulonda Sainz was approved that will be used for student virtual learning equipment and supplies at Milford School.
• Dr. Edington noted an exemplary report was received from the Indiana High School Athletic Association concerning the Wawasee-West Noble boys soccer match. West Noble had lost one of its players, Anthony Reyes, who was killed in an automobile crash. Jordan Sharp, Wawasee’s coach, decided his team would also play the match minus one player.
• One year coaching contract extensions were approved for WHS boys basketball coach Jon Everingham, WHS football coach Jon Reutebuch and WHS girls basketball coach Matt Carpenter.
• Mindy Brooks was reappointed to the Milford Public Library board of trustees to serve a third term.
• A 2021 budget hearing was held, but there were no public comments. The budget will be considered for adoption by the school board during its October meeting and the exact amount of the budget determined later by the State Board of Accounts.
• A pre-bargaining hearing, now required annually by the state as of 2019, was held and there were no public comments. It is required to be held prior to the beginning of negotiations with the teachers association.