Require face masks on Wilmington school buses?


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



From left, WCS Director of Pupil Services Natalie Harmeling and Board of Education Vice President Marty Beaugard Sr. contribute to Thursday’s work session about reopening school.

From left, WCS Director of Pupil Services Natalie Harmeling and Board of Education Vice President Marty Beaugard Sr. contribute to Thursday’s work session about reopening school.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WILMINGTON — The State of Ohio strongly recommends school districts require students to wear face coverings while on a bus, and the Wilmington school superintendent indicates she will advise the Board of Education to approve that preventive measure.

Either way, schools must establish a face mask policy, according to Governor DeWine’s “Planning Guide for Ohio Schools and Districts” released July 2.

The July 2 document sets forth that school staff must wear face coverings at school. Although some exceptions are listed, the expectation from the state is that staffers are to wear face coverings, Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart said Thursday at a school board work session.

The governor’s guide strongly recommends face coverings for students in grades 3 through 12.

Regarding the state’s position related to mask wearing on buses, McCarty-Stewart said that section of the guide refers to the way air flows through a bus as being a problem for managing the spread of coronavirus.

Other provisions that districts can adopt concerning bus transportation are: assigned seating, and having children of the same household sit in a group.

Families will need to monitor their children for coronavirus symptoms prior to them stepping onto the bus or into the school building, the state planning guide urges.

As required by the state, WCS will have a quarantine room in each building, said McCarty-Stewart, so that if a student or staffer does develop a fever or other symptoms he or she will quarantine in the room until they are able to be home. Illness among people in close settings can spread rapidly among the group and then into the community.

The superintendent also updated board members on the two options Wilmington City Schools parents have for how their child will attend school in the fall: in-person learning; and WCS Virtual Learning School.

WCS students will automatically be enrolled in the in-person learning option if they do not register for the WCS Virtual Education School. Students will attend school in person as long as it is safe to attend. They will practice remote tools in case they again have to go into remote learning for a while.

There is a hybrid model of learning that alternates in-person learning and remote learning. This is where one group of students comprising 50 percent of the student body is in school, and the other group of 50 percent is at home doing remote learning activities. (This remote learning would not be the same thing as the WCS Virtual Learning School).

This hybrid model offers the district the space needed to maintain six feet of social distancing in classrooms and common areas.

This model will be used only if chosen through collaboration among the county health department, the WCS administration, and the WCS Board of Education.

With the WCS Virtual Learning School option, which is free to parents this school year, the student must commit to a full semester. Under this option, a student can take part in any WCS extra-curricular activities that may be available.

With this second option, the K-through-12 student will be provided with a login to a quality educational company that the district will partner with to provide this option during the pandemic, according to a WCS PowerPoint presentation.

WCS educators will support and monitor students in this option, added the superintendent.

As of Wednesday, July 8, in a survey of nearly 40 percent of WCS students and parents, 79 percent want the in-person option, and 21 percent prefer the WCS Virtual Learning School.

McCarty-Stewart said some of the parents who prefer the in-person option want to transport their child or children via their own vehicle.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

From left, WCS Director of Pupil Services Natalie Harmeling and Board of Education Vice President Marty Beaugard Sr. contribute to Thursday’s work session about reopening school.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/07/web1_composite-1.jpgFrom left, WCS Director of Pupil Services Natalie Harmeling and Board of Education Vice President Marty Beaugard Sr. contribute to Thursday’s work session about reopening school. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com