WILMINGTON — After the governor issued a statewide mask order last week for K through 12 students, the number of East Clinton students choosing a full-time online option “exploded” and rose to about 33 percent, said the EC superintendent.
A couple weeks ago the number of EC students opting for a full-time Virtual Education for the first semester was about 16 percent, and then the statewide K-12 mask mandate was announced and the number basically doubled, East Clinton Supt. Eric Magee said at a Monday appointment involving the local school superintendents and the Clinton County commissioners.
All four school districts in the county gave families the option to sign up for full-time online learning for the first semester because of the pandemic.
Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart told commissioners about 26 percent of WCS students are going with the full-time, learn-at-home Virtual Education format.
At Blanchester Local Schools, about 24 percent of students plan to be online full-time during the first semester. That breaks down to 346 students as of Monday, with Wednesday the cutoff date to opt for this online alternative, said Blanchester Schools Supt. Dean Lynch.
“Once the mask mandate was issued, we had more people choose the virtual learning option than we had people coming back [to in-person learning] from the virtual option,” Lynch said.
And Clinton-Massie Local Schools appears to have the lowest percentage of students choosing the full-time online option: 15 percent. That percentage is based on the 282 district students as of Monday who have chosen the Virtual Education option, and a total student body at the end of last year of 1,874. As of Monday, the student body total for this year had not been determined.
CARES Act money
Meanwhile, the county commissioners hope to direct some of the county’s federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funds to the schools to supplement the local districts’ Internet access efforts related to students’ remote learning.
The four superintendents heard Monday about the prospect of each district receiving something in the range of $25,000 to $75,000 to facilitate online learning opportunities that have been offered due to the pandemic.
Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed said commissioners were actively looking for ways to utilize the CARES funds the county received, and he read about a county that was able to spend dollars to provide mobile hot spots for families whose children are doing virtual learning.
The districts of course already have programs in place to address Internet connectivity issues, but Steed said the extra funds could supplement and enhance what they’ve already got going and superintendents welcomed the possibility.
Steed told superintendents the auditor’s office believes it would be an approved use for the CARES dollars meant to deal with unexpected expenses that are arising due to COVID-19.
The discussion concluded with Steed indicating once commissioners get more information from another county and get a complete go-ahead, they hope to go forward with allocating CARES funds to schools. The schools of course would be accountable for how the allocated dollars are spent in their district, he said.
Local school districts received CARES Act dollars of their own.
According to a news release in June from Clinton County Auditor Terry Habermehl, the county as such was to receive $543,559 of CARES funds.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.