ADAMS TOWNSHIP — Even if masks end up not being mandatory for Clinton-Massie students, compliance might be improved through the message “Face coverings help us keep school open,” say some who are connected with the school system.
A school board work session was held Thursday to talk about procedures, policies and parameters for reopening brick-and-mortar schools next month when, for the first time since the state of Ohio closed school facilities due to the global pandemic, the CM school buildings will house hundreds of students and staffers.
No action was taken, but the hope is to draft and adopt a plan soon so that district families can make an informed choice between an in-person classroom option, and an online virtual education option where a child would not attend school in person for a semester.
On Thursday, at least two of the four board members present communicated that they would find it hard to support a student face mask policy that has the word “mandated” in it.
Board member Mike Gorman said there are differing opinions within the general public about the wearing of face masks, and he added that people don’t like to be told what to do.
But Gorman, like teacher Marilyn Burns who attended the work session, suggested peer influence could serve to increase non-mandatory compliance by students.
Gorman said there can be peer influence to get friends on board with masks whether student face coverings are mandated or simply strongly recommended, which is the alternative mentioned in the governor’s guide for schools to reopen.
Teacher Burns said there are CM students willing to talk to peers to encourage the wearing of masks, with a goal of having in-person learning kept in school buildings to help their fellow students who struggled at home last spring with remote digital learning. And, of course, keeping schools open also means getting to be among your friends.
However, when Gorman said he thinks even if face coverings are not mandated, there would be a large percentage of students wearing masks in school, Clinton-Massie Superintendent Matt Baker responded that he respectively disagreed.
Baker then said he thinks if the school board does not mandate face masks for students, 90 percent of them won’t wear them.
There did appear to be board agreement that even if the board does not require student masks in the classroom, the expectation is that students should wear them while in the hallways. And if masks are required for the classroom as well, the superintendent mentioned the prospect of “mask breaks.”
Moreover, five tents were ordered Thursday, said Baker, because public health specialists say there is a substantial reduction in the spread of the virus when outdoors. Weather permitting, Baker wants students outside a lot on the CM campus.
Board member Mike Goodall is pleased the district is providing an educational option for families who are not comfortable at this juncture with their child being back in a classroom setting. This option is where Clinton-Massie Local Schools will provide the student with a computer and login to a quality educational company that the district partners with, said Baker.
Clinton-Massie virtual educators will support and monitor these students in this option, but the curriculum is produced by a company using Ohio standards.
Per state of Ohio orders, school staffers are required to wear a face covering at school. Baker said they will be provided a cloth face covering and a face shield. In that regard, the dress code will be relaxed to permit the wearing of ball caps, which offers something to snap face shields onto.
More than once at the work session, the superintendent said that the most COVID-19 vulnerable population in the schools is the staff. That’s because they are older than the students, he said.
Goodall would like to see a focus on having parents ensure that sick children are kept home.
One screen in Baker’s PowerPoint presentation stated, “There will be a learning curve for parents, students, and staff on new procedures and expectations. Grace and patience will be extended to all those putting out effort.”
The superintendent directed a special thank-you to what he described as the Clinton-Massie “brain trust on safety” as the district looks ahead to the fall reopening. They are Support Staff Supervisor Stephen Ford, District School Nurse and Wellness Coordinator Cindy Stenger, Food Service Director Tracy Mathews, and computer technology teacher and Communication Specialist Dann Sternsher.
They have given time above and beyond, and haven’t been reimbursed for their efforts, Baker said.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.