WILMINGTON — This year the students’ first-day-of-school outfits included face coverings, and all building principals at Wilmington City Schools (WCS) reported excellent compliance with the new coronavirus safety precautions on Monday among Group A students.
In the WCS’ start-up schedule, 50 percent of students attend school in person on Mondays and Thursdays (Group A), and the remaining 50 percent attend school in person on Tuesdays and Fridays (Group B). Wilmington schools will operate under this hybrid schedule through at least Labor Day.
At Monday’s school board meeting, WCS Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart described Group A’s first day as “very successful.”
Due to the ongoing public health emergency, this academic year will be an “historic school year,” she said. The superintendent used that phrase during remarks honoring WCS Board of Education President Steve Murphy, who unexpected died on Aug. 14.
“As we begin this historic school year, it is my hope that we can all continue to follow Steve’s example: Lead with compassion; support our students and our schools; and take care of each other.”
A moment of silence was observed at the start of the board meeting.
Director of Pupil Services Natalie Harmeling said the Group A of preschool children at East End School — “our youngest learners” — did a great job as far as keeping masks on and keeping a safe distance when they needed to.
Like other administrators after her, she said the extra time spent last week to prepare for an abnormal school year was helpful, and the staff was “ready for today.”
Holmes Elementary School Principal Marilee Tanner, whose building houses grades kindergarten through 2, acknowledged she had wondered how the young learners would do concerning the new health and safety measures. She reported Group A did well.
A difficult decision was made, she said, to limit the number of parents accompanying their young children into the school building on the first day. Parents, of course, like to be with their children to make the new circumstances more comfortable for their children. But due to exposure concerns, only the parents of kindergartners were permitted to come inside.
To lessen the anxiety, videos were recorded and made available beforehand so the children and their parents could see what things were going to look like and thus be more familiar to them.
Cortney Karshner-Rethmel, principal of the grades 3-through-5 Denver Place Elementary School, noted Denver has a tradition of having a theme. This year it is “Game On”, and is meant to challenge students and staff to be the best they can be.
Middle School Principal Norbert “Bert” Martini said a school climate team and the staff have chosen integrity, empathy and growth as the middle school’s core values. In turn, the core values have been incorporated into a new mission statement: “At our school we inspire integrity, embrace empathy, and promote growth for all.”
Middle School Co-Principal Jen Martin said some students spent time outdoors on the first day. At lunchtime, there were three students per table, she said.
High School Principal Samantha “Sam” Woodruff introduced the new vo-ag (agricultural education) teacher, Gabrielle Cooper, a graduate of Wilmington College with a concentration on animal science. Also introduced was Bailey Wahrhaftig, a new intervention specialist and co-teacher. She graduated from Ashland University.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.