Wilmington City Schools trying to ensure a successful start


WILMINGTON — Wilmington City Schools (WCS) students and drivers will be required to wear masks while riding a school bus, in accord with a Centers for Disease Control order.

WCS Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart reviewed plans Monday with the school board for the start of a new school year.

She noted the school bus mask wearing is a federal requirement and WCS’ bus drivers are licensed federally, “so we do not want to jeopardize that, as well as the health risk.”

In consultation with the Clinton County Health District, masks and facial coverings while indoors at Wilmington schools will be optional but highly recommended for students and staff, she said.

The superintendent said the Ohio Department of Health recommends that those who are not fully vaccinated should consider wearing a mask while indoors.

“The staff will help to encourage and support students who choose to wear a mask,” stated McCarty-Stewart.

She advised masks at some point could be required for all staff and students while indoors if the level of virus transmission in the school or community is elevated.

Based on feedback from parents, students and staff, K through 12 students will start in two waves — have staggered start dates — on Aug. 18 and 19, with all students reporting to school Aug. 20.

There are a number of benefits to the staggered start, said McCarty-Stewart, adding there are still a good number of students who have not been back to school in person since March 2020.

Random temperature checks will continue to be conducted at WCS schools, she said.

“We felt that that was very helpful in the [past] school year,” she said. Children can seem fine when heading off to school and then an hour later their temperature may spike, commented McCarty-Stewart.

Concerning the 3- to 6-feet physical distancing protocol, school officials “will continue to do our level best to maintain” that, understanding that with all students back in school it will not always be possible, she said.

Due to an extension of a U.S. Department of Agriculture waiver, all students can receive a free breakfast and lunch meal at school for the 2021-22 school year.

Also at Monday’s board of education meeting, WCS Director of Curriculum Nicole Quallen reported on curriculum resources in K-5 math and K-3 phonics that the school board proceeded to adopt: “Bridges in Mathematics” and “From Phonics to Reading”.

One of the bigger shifts with “Bridges in Mathematics”, Quallen said, are that Bridges teachers are using good questioning and promoting discussion in the classroom so the students are consistently talking about the math and sharing their thinking about the math.

“Bridges in Mathematics” also involves visual modeling and manipulatives. Manipulatives are physical objects that students and teachers can use to illustrate and discover mathematical concepts, according to the hand2mind website.

Quallen said, “The way that we likely all learned math is without a lot of visual models and manipulatives. It [the way current adults learned math] was very abstract. Whatever we were told, that’s what we believed and we trusted that those things were true … but [often] not a firm understanding of all of the concepts behind that.”

In other news, the district secured additional nursing services. The added services will be funded through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund money that’s tied to the impact of COVID-19.

A recommended termination of employment of a WCS bus mechanic was carried out in a board vote.

To remain competitive with area districts, WCS will increase the rate for temporary substitute teachers to $115 per day, and for permanent substitute teachers to $135 per day.

Reach Gray Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

WCS Director of Curriculum Nicole Quallen talks about making K-5 math more “concrete” for understanding abstractions.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/07/web1_DSC_0249-2.jpgWCS Director of Curriculum Nicole Quallen talks about making K-5 math more “concrete” for understanding abstractions. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WCS Board of Education Vice President Michael Flanigan
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/07/web1_DSC_0255.jpgWCS Board of Education Vice President Michael Flanigan Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WCS Board of Education member Kevin Snarr
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/07/web1_DSC_0258.jpgWCS Board of Education member Kevin Snarr Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WCS Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart speaks about district plans for starting the school year.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/07/web1_DSC_0251-2.jpgWCS Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart speaks about district plans for starting the school year. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal
Masks on buses, random temp checks in schools

By Gary Huffenberger

[email protected]

State: No school mask mandate

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio doesn’t plan to mandate masks in schools this fall, but health officials strongly recommend students and staff wear face coverings if they aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, the state Department of Health’s chief medical officer said Monday.

That and other recommended steps are essential to protecting children and ensuring a successful school year as students return to classrooms, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said.

Some of Ohio’s largest districts already decided to require masks for everyone when the school year begins. Others are still navigating the complicated decision-making and polarization around mask rules as the Delta variant spreads and cases rise.

The health department is strongly urging school employees and eligible students age 12 and older to get vaccinated. That is the best protection, Vanderhoff said.

Health officials also are recommending schools continue additional measures that have proven helpful, such as keeping extra distance between people indoors, improving ventilation, sanitizing and encouraging good hand-washing.

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